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It’s mandatory to work with a CDAP-approved digital advisor to get funding – but how do you choose the right one? 

If you’re trying to figure out what to look for in your CDAP-approved digital advisor, this blog is for you. 

The Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) requires that businesses work with a CDAP-approved digital advisor in order to qualify for funding – but that means you may end up working with a digital advisor who’s a stranger to you and your business, which can be intimidating. 

Preparing your own digital adoption plan or working with an advisor who is not CDAP-approved means you won’t be approved to receive funding. 

Although this rule may seem frustrating and limiting, there’s a very good reason: CDAP funding comes from Canadian tax dollars

Working with a government-approved digital advisor is a good way to protect our collective dollars, and make sure small businesses aren’t being taken advantage of by shady businesses. 

So: are all CDAP-approved digital advisors made the same? What are you supposed to look for as you enter into an agreement to apply for funding? 

We’ll tell you. Keep reading to learn:

  1. What to look for in a digital advisor before booking your first meeting
  2. What to ask your digital advisor during your initial consultation
  3. What to consider before you begin your digital adoption plan
  4. Start your digital adoption plan with a digital advisor who meets your criteria

What to look for in a digital advisor before booking your first meeting

When it comes to finding a CDAP-approved digital advisor, the most common routes to make an initial connection include word-of-mouth, and search engines.

Yet it’s important to know: not everyone appearing to be a digital advisor is approved for this program.

There is a growing number of lead-generating websites and vendors promoting the program — and although everyone is welcome to promote this excellent program, not everyone has been approved to advise.

The best way to confirm the advisor you’re speaking with is a CDAP-approved digital advisor is to:

  • Get registered for the CDAP program (see more on this below)
  • Confirm your business is eligible
  • Access CDAP’s Digital Advisor Marketplace (a simple online database and search tool, not accessible to the general public)

Once you’ve completed those steps, you can easily search for the name of the advisor or company that you’re interested in connecting with to make sure they’re CDAP-approved.

Here are 3 initial questions to keep in mind as you browse the websites of CDAP-approved digital advisors that you may come across online. 

1. Do they have a good track record?

Most serious and organised CDAP-approved digital advisors will have a website that is easy to find, accessible, and clearly features their number of approved plans right on the main page. 

How many CDAP digital adoption plans have they submitted that have been approved? 

In order for your business to receive funding, the digital adoption plan that you and your digital advisor prepare must be submitted. Only upon approval of that plan does your company receive access to the CDAP funding – which means the number of approved plans is really important. 

2. Do they provide virtual consultations?

Check out their options for your initial consultation meeting. The initial consultation should: 

  1. Be free
  2. Take place on video call 
  3. Last about 30 minutes 
  4. Come with no obligation to commit (you don’t have to choose them to write your digital adoption plan just because you met them for 30 minutes)

If a digital advisor says it’s mandatory for you to come in-person or via email, this should raise some red flags for you. 

Speaking to your digital advisor face-to-face, even just on a video call, allows you to see that they’re a real person, and provides you with a chance to ask real-time questions that come up that are important to you and your business. 

It also helps you to ensure that the person you’re communicating with is not scamming you, and is not some kind of scam-bot.

3. Are they willing to help you with the registration process?

If the digital advisor’s website is functional and detailed, it should give a summary of the services they provide. 

Is help with the registration process included in the service that they offer? 

This is a big deal for many of our clients. Although the registration process is set up to be user-friendly, it can be confusing for those who don’t self-identify as tech-savvy.

It can also be time-consuming. 

A great digital advisor knows that your time is important and valuable, and will be there to help you with that registration process. 

What if these details aren’t included on the website?

If the details of the digital advisor’s services aren’t clearly written on the website, there should be other ways to ask preliminary questions prior to the initial consult. 

If the digital advisor has a chat feature on their website, use that to ask about support with the registration process. 

For example: take a look at our LiveChat feature at the bottom right corner of the website (and feel free to ask our agents any questions you may have while you’re there!) 

What to ask your digital advisor during your initial consultation

Once you’ve established the preliminaries and selected the advisor you’d like to know better, it’s time to set up your initial consultation meeting. 

During this meeting, you should find out: 

  • Who you’re working with
  • What their experience is with the CDAP program
  • What a sample digital adoption plan looks like (demos should be provided) 

There are three more specific questions that you should be asking them before you commit to moving forward. 

1. What is their plan process?

It’s important for business owners to be involved in the development of your digital plan. 

However, you should know upfront what will be expected of you, since you’ll be busy managing your business at the same time. 

Is the plan process overly time-consuming for you, the business owner?

2. How broad is their vendor network?

Digital advisors need a broad network of software vendors and solution providers that are able to collect a lot of information, and build plans for any industry that are in line with your company’s best interests. 

How many vendors, in how many industries, does the digital advisor have? How do they feel they will be able to prepare a plan that meets the needs of your business in your industry?

Pro tip. Also ask: is the digital advisor free of financial benefit affiliations with these vendors? Being financially beholden to the vendors they work with is a breach of conduct, and a conflict of interest, as per their code of conduct for CDAP. 

3. Are they suggesting kickbacks for grant funding?

This is a big one

A “kickback” is a payment that is promised in exchange for preferential treatment. In this case: you pick a digital advisor because they promise to give you back some of the digital adoption grant plan money. 

This may sound great, but be warned: this is strictly prohibited by CDAP and is a breach of conduct on the part of the digital advisor

Businesses that have been accepting digital advisors who provide kickback incentives have been disqualified as CDAP becomes aware of the breach. 

Remember: CDAP funding comes from taxpayers – so the government isn’t going to be on board with anyone breaking the rules. 

CDAP funding money is intended to be used exclusively for its purpose. So be sure to follow the CDAP rules – and make sure your digital advisor is, too, or you may end up disqualified.

What to consider before you begin your digital adoption plan

If you’re satisfied with your digital advisor following your initial consultation, then you’re ready to enter into a contractual agreement to have that digital advisor begin preparing your digital adoption plan. 

Here are the final questions you should ask before you put pen to paper to make sure you and your digital advisor are on the same page. 

1. How long does their approach take?

How long does it take for your digital advisor to complete the digital adoption plan? Days? Weeks? How many weeks on average has it taken them to prepare a digital plan – and how many weeks after that to submit it and expect an approval?

2. How much is the consultation fee?

Your initial consultation should be free and only last about 30 minutes. After that, you’re working with your digital advisor as a professional consultant.

Digital advisors are experts in digital adoption. The digital advisor, any staff they maintain, and any vendors they work with, will be putting time and effort into preparing your digital adoption plan, tailored to your unique business needs. 

The digital adoption plan development process is a consultation – and the plan itself is your road map of success, which you can use later to apply changes within your company using the 0% interest loan of up to $100,000 (if your digital adoption plan is approved).

3. What are their payment terms?

With the Boost Your Business Technology grant, you get up to $15,000 in grant money to obtain your digital adoption plan

The plan is your ticket to unlocking the interest-free loan we mentioned above. 

It’s important for you to understand: 

  • How much their consultation costs
  • When they expect to be paid (before or after you receive your funding?) 
  • Any other upfront details they feel you should know about their payment terms

4. Request a formal service outline and estimate

Our final tip for you is more a request than a question: get your digital advisor to provide you with a formal service outline and an estimate of the work prior to beginning your digital adoption plan

This will make sure you have a document with all the costs, timelines, and deliverables that you’ll need to keep track of as you move through the process. 

Start your digital adoption plan with a digital advisor who meets your criteria

Ready to get started? Here’s how to get in touch with us!

  • Start a LiveChat on the website (bottom right corner)
  • Call to book at 289-768-3562
  • Find us on Facebook to see if we’ve answered your questions in a past blog

We’re here to answer any questions you may have (especially the ones we’ve outlined above!) and to get you set up with a FREE 30-minute Zoom consultation with a CDAP-approved digital advisor. 

Ask about our sample plan demo during your Zoom call to see what your digital plan will get you.

We look forward to working with you! 

In the meantime, here’s what you should read next…

What to read next:

What does the digital adoption plan get you?

How do you unlock up to $100,000 in 0% interest loans with your approved digital adoption plan?

How will marketing and analytics software help my business thrive?