CDAP Panel Discussion: Key Considerations and Insights for Canadian SMEs


The Canada Digital Adoption Program, also known as CDAP, is a $1.4 billion investment fund created by the Canadian government to support the digital transformation of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). The program offers eligible Canadian SMEs:

  • Up to $15,000 in non-dilutive funding
  • Interest-free loans up to $100,000 from BDC
  • Wage subsidies of up to $7,300
  • A personalized digital adoption plan
  • A free digital readiness assessment

Since December 2022, Vertical Motion has been a registered CDAP Digital Advisor, on a mission to help SMEs from coast to coast document business processes, identify pain points, plan for the future, and find optimized solutions for their distinct needs.

In this article, we delve into the world of CDAP as we connect with Project Manager and Business Analysts Fin Dittimi and Bill Copeland as they shed light on CDAP and offer invaluable advice for Canadian SMEs navigating the realms of digital transformation.

Discussion Panelists

Picture of  Bill Copeland
Bill Copeland

Bill Copeland is a Project Manager and Business Analyst at Vertical Motion with over a decade of experience in the energy sector and software development industry. Bill is a licensed member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) and a graduate of the Energy to Digital Growth Education and Upskilling Program (EDGEUP). Since then, Bill has been instrumental in advancing Vertical Motion as a leading Canadian software developer while supporting the digital transformation of Vertical Motion's valued clients.

Picture of Fin Dittimi
Fin Dittimi

Fin Dittimi is a Project Manager and Business Analyst at Vertical Motion with over a decade-long career in the software development industry. Fin holds a master's degree in IT Management from the University of Wolverhampton and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Concordia University. Since then, Fin has been involved in successfully launching, managing, and scaling more than 30 digital solutions over the last ten years, generating upwards of 50 million dollars over the product lifespan.

1 | Why is digital adoption important for Canadian SMEs striving to enhance their competitive edge?

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Bill Copeland — In today’s market, companies are expected to do more with less. One of the ways successful businesses do this is through digital adoption, specifically automation. Whether it’s automating operational processes or streamlining workflows, companies are enhancing their competitive edge with technologies like artificial intelligence that reduce the resources spent on repetitive tasks that require little human intelligence.

For Canadian SMEs, digital adoption is helpful in two ways. First, it generates increased productivity and efficiency that helps to create long-term scalability, strengthens differentiating factors, and heightens barriers to entry. Second, it reduces inefficient resource usage and decreases overhead costs, allowing resources to be invested in business development and scaling.

Fin Dittimi — As small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) scale, so do repetitive manual tasks such as creating documents, updating information, and following up with clients. Before long, employees’ time and energy shift towards completing routine tasks that sustain the business rather than innovative and strategic ones that help to grow it. This is where digital adoption comes in and helps to alleviate the time spent on repetitive tasks through automation. 

For Canadian SMEs, digital transformation is a highly effective strategy for enhancing their competitive edge in two ways. First, it enables SMEs to buy back time, which they can reinvest in activities designed to grow their business. Second, it helps to magnify streamlined operations by multiplying growth efforts.

2 | How does CDAP help Canadian SMEs accomplish their digital transformation goals?

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Bill Copeland — Most companies understand the value of digital adoption, but few know how to do it, and many don’t know where to start. This leads many Canadian SMEs to invest time and money in areas that aren’t the optimal solution for their business. With CDAP, businesses benefit from working with industry-leading Digital Advisors like Vertical Motion, who have the expertise and resources to assess and evaluate the best solution for their business. Not to mention all while being reimbursed for the associated costs.

Fin Dittimi — There are three ways that CDAP helps Canadian SMEs achieve their digital transformation goals. First, it alleviates the financial burden of developing a digital adoption plan by offering SMEs reimbursements following submission and approval. Second, it connects SMEs with program-verified industry leaders with expertise in business transformation, ensuring that they receive guidance from qualified professionals. Third, CDAP assists businesses in documenting their current processes while identifying existing pain points, potential opportunities, strengths, weaknesses and threats to develop a clear vision of how best to implement digital adoption.

3 | Vertical Motion has been a registered CDAP Digital Advisor since December 2022. What insights have you gained during this period, and what advice can you offer Canadian SMEs?

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Bill Copeland — One of the biggest things that I’ve learned during this period is how important it is for Canadian SMEs to understand their current business flows. A lot of times we see business owners and founders that enter CDAP wanting to implement the latest technology without knowing enough about their current situation. This makes it challenging to identify where they can benefit the most from digital transformation. My advice for founders is to start by gathering information about your current business practices, technology, and processes. Doing this helps us better understand where your business is now and allows us to more clearly explore new paths forward.

Fin Dittimi — As previously mentioned by Bill, there are a lot of Canadian SMEs encountering a multitude of challenges, manual tasks, pain points, and difficulties within their existing business processes. However, they often find themselves unsure of where to start the improvement process. In response to this, I recommend that Canadian SMEs view CDAP as a chance to conduct a comprehensive assessment of their business rather than simply an opportunity to implement a prevalent solution they’ve heard about from other organizations. By adopting this perspective, you can expect to leave CDAP with well-documented business processes, a clear roadmap for digital adoption, and a finely-tuned solution poised to transform your business.

4 | What are common misconceptions or errors that Canadian SMEs should be mindful of when seeking funding and expert advice through CDAP?

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Bill Copeland — I’ve met with several clients who have been led to believe that they don’t have to pay digital advisors directly. According to the program guidelines, applicants are responsible for paying the full invoice amount to digital advisors and will be reimbursed by CDAP after their digital adoption plan is submitted and approved. I recommend being cautious of any digital advisors who say otherwise, as they are not giving accurate information, are very likely in breach of contract, and could place you at risk of not receiving funding.

Another misconception for clients to be aware of is that digital advisors can’t handle any implementation as part of CDAP. We can provide a roadmap for implementation, but none of the funds reimbursed by CDAP are allocated for implementation. So, if there’s a need for implementation, it must be arranged separately, outside of CDAP, and won’t be covered by the program.

Fin Dittimi — One thing to be careful of is digital advisors who make promises that fall outside the scope of CDAP in an attempt to secure your participation. Their primary focus may be on their own financial gain rather than genuinely helping your business. To navigate this, prioritize working with advisors who are committed to assisting you in documenting your processes, understanding and refining your business model, and identifying the right technology solutions for your specific needs. By working with professionals who genuinely aim to help you understand your challenges and improve your business, you’ll generate far greater returns on your investment than the few thousands of dollars some digital advisors claim they can save you.

A second misconception is that CDAP is designed to exclusively address one specific type of problem. In reality, CDAP serves as a versatile tool for traditional business and product discovery. It offers the opportunity to assess your current situation and pinpoint areas where technological integration can have the most significant impact. Therefore, instead of restricting its application to a single facet of your business, utilize it to accelerate your entire enterprise while addressing your most pressing pain points first. This approach will allow you to resolve immediate issues while also preparing your business for the next phase required to align with ongoing business transformation.

5 | Beyond the criteria set by CDAP, what characterizes the ideal client for Vertical Motion to work with in developing a digital adoption plan?

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Bill Copeland — The types of clients that Vertical Motion wants to work with are businesses that:

  1. Genuinely want to use CDAP to improve their business
  2. Are transparent in discussing the challenges they face
  3. Understand the tools, solutions, and processes they currently use
  4. Have an open mind to explore and evaluate multiple solutions

Though we welcome clients to share their ideas and aspirations to help shape the vision forward, we’ve found that the greatest success happens when clients remain open to exploring a variety of alternatives.

Fin Dittimi — Having collaborated with a variety of businesses across various industries, Vertical Motion remains largely industry-agnostic. However, the commonality among these clients is their pursuit to streamline distinct phases within their customer journey. Whether it involves marketing, prospecting, lead generation, conversions, onboarding, delivery, customer support, or retention strategies, the fundamental challenge they encounter is the limitations of manual processes as they scale. This challenge, while a positive indicator of business growth, requires digital adoption to alleviate bottlenecks and maintain high rates of customer retention.

This is the kind of CDAP business that Vertical Motion best aligns with. With our highly skilled team, we can aid businesses by documenting their processes, identifying gaps in current workflows, envisioning the future, and proposing actionable solutions to seamlessly integrate technology and address operational inefficiencies.

• • •

The Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) offers a valuable opportunity for Canadian SMEs seeking to improve their customer journey, reduce overhead expenses, optimize inventory management, and overcome operational bottlenecks. Through CDAP, eligible Canadian businesses can access up to $15,000 in non-dilutive funding, up to $100,000 in interest-free BDC loans, up to $7,300 in wage subsidies, a custom digital adoption plan, and a free digital readiness assessment. With this support, SMEs in Canada can scale their business to new heights creating a thriving economy for all Canadians to enjoy.

Don’t let inefficient processes hinder your business’ progress. Contact us today and discover how Vertical Motion and CDAP can empower you to realize your digital transformation goals.

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Vertical Motion is a trusted Canadian software development and entrepreneur assistance company that has supported the global efforts of startups, non-profits, B2B, and B2C businesses since 2006. With headquarters in Calgary and Kelowna, and team members coast to coast, Vertical Motion is recognized as an award-winning leader in the technology industry. Our team of executive advisors, project managers, software developers, business analysts, marketing specialists, and graphic designers have extensive experience in several industries including — Energy, Finance, Blockchain, Real Estate, Health Care, Clean Technology, Clothing & Apparel, Sports & Recreation, Software as a Service (SaaS), and Augmented & Virtual Reality (AR/VR).

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Picture of Ty Mikitka
Ty Mikitka

Marketing | Communications | Sales Specialist at Vertical Motion

Article Feature Image Credit | Freepik

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