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Explore CDAP funding opportunities to jumpstart your digital transformation

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Webinar transcript

Paul Duffy (00:00:10):
Hi everyone. Thanks for joining our webinar series here presented by MNP in conjunction with Microsoft. Today we’re going to be exploring CDAP funding opportunities to jumpstart your digital transformation. This is the third of our webinar series. Our first webinar that we ran was around Microsoft Dynamics Business Central and is it the right solution for your company. We then ran a secondary webinar around the Power Platform and how you can connect it to Business Central and build off of it. And as I mentioned today, we’re going to be running through our third webinar around CDAP and funding opportunities around that.

All these webinars are also on demand. If you want to go back and watch our first, second or third webinar, after we run it today, you’re welcome to do so and we’ll send out those links after the meeting.

I’m your host, Paul Duffy, super excited to be here. I’m a director of client services here at MNP Digital. We also have Soumya Ghosh on the call with us as well. He’s a director of Digital Advisory here at MNP Digital. And we also have Nour Ali, who’s from Microsoft, and she’s a SMP code and market manager of business applications at Microsoft.

Today’s agenda we’re going to be covering a little bit about who MNP is, and MNP Digital to start. Then Nour’s going to be talking a little bit about why digital transformation is important. And Ethiopian Soumya’s going to be presenting after around CDAP and discussing the government grants and funding. And then we’re going to do a bit of a Q&A session after. Feel free to put some of your questions in as we’re going throughout the presentation, but we’ll obviously pause later on to answer some of those questions as we got through.

To start, just a little bit of an introduction about MNP. We’re a very large accounting tax audit firm. We’ve been around for close to 60 years. We were actually founded in Brandon, Manitoba and we’ve been growing significantly. One of the fastest growing accounting firms in Canada today. We’re up to around 7,700 employees, but specifically want to draw your attention to the 450 digital employees, as that’s our fastest growing sector in our firm as well, and why we’re kind of here today to kind of talk to you about MNP digital and the services that we can bring to the table for you and your business.

MNP Digital is split up into seven different departments. We have Digital Advisory, which is the team that Soumya’s under who manages advisory around digital strategy as well as government grans as well as several other sectors. And we also have an Applied Data and Analytics team, Application Development team, Digital Platforms focused on ERP, such as Business Central that we spoke about in our last couple of sessions, and we’ll be speaking about again today. Also, Cyber Security and Privacy, Cloud Services and Managed IT Services.

The grant that we’re going to be talking about today as well can be applied to ERPs or cybersecurity and privacy as well as many other digital transformation components. So yeah, just don’t think that it’s falling under the digital advisory sector. We can offer that grant to many different other service lines as well here at MNP.

With that said, I’m going to transition the presentation over to Nour and she can discuss with you guys a little about why digital transformation is important to you.

Nour Ali (00:04:13):
Thank you so much Paul. I really appreciate it. So I just wanted to ground us a little bit today on why digital transformation is so critical for your business, whether you are a business owner or an employee at a business right not, it’s just something that’s affected all of us and I really wanted to kind of lay the groundwork there and just get to the root cause.

If we go to the next slide, I think is an expression we’re all a bit tired of, but the New Normal. Disruption has really truly been the new normal since 2020. And we’ve seen it manifest in a lot of different ways that have reshaped entire businesses. They’ve reshaped several industries, and it’s truly affected all of us and made us all have to adapt and transform very quickly.

We see this manifest in four ways. Starting on the top left it’s that really accelerated piece of change. We know that the only constant is change. However, the rate at which change has been occurring has been quite exponential these last few years. There’s a quote of Satya (Nadella) saying that I really love which is, when the pandemic first hit, we saw businesses that are decades old really do two years’ worth of digital transformation in just two months. And that’s because they have to. They have to get to that speed. And so, we don’t really see that slowing down anytime soon.

Second of all is really seeing new digital business models come about. I think because of the pandemic and post-COVID recovery as well, businesses really realized that the value you offer your customers does not just sit with your product or service. It also really sits across your entire business model, and the value chain that you have, where you can really innovate all throughout in order to meet your customers’ expectations and continue to drive your business forward. It’s been awesome to see that as – really develop over the past few years.

Third is one that I feel like it speaks for itself, which is global market volatility. I think there’s just been no business as usual for these past few years and hasn’t been a steadfast norm. And that’s really a statement across borders. It’s not just a Canada statement. Again, we don’t really see that slowing down anytime soon.

Lastly is around hybrid work which I think affects all of us as I come to you from my home office, Paul comes to you from the MNP office. But really this is one where we’ve seen SMB business leaders be face with labour shortages, rising wages, and on top of that workforce challenges about where, when, and how people want to everything work done. And to be completely transparent, these employees are really looking to their employers and expect that level of flexibility and transparency with that as well.
If you’re a business owner today and looking at all these pillars of disruption, you have to ask yourself, am I keeping up across these pillars? Am I really accelerating at the pace of change that the market’s at? Am I continuing to innovate my business model or are there things slowing me down?

If we go to the next slide, it will really kind of also just ground us with some market data, which I love. We have different studies across IDC, across Gardner, that we refer to.

Looking at the stats, we see on the left 20 percent of SMBs are going to cease their operations. By 2025 because they cannot pivot fast enough. They’re unable to digitize their operations fast enough so that they continue to keep up with customer expectations and demands. That’s a huge, sizeable chunk that we just cannot simply ignore.

Looking at the second stat we see that 73 percent of employees still want hybrid flexible work options to stay post-pandemic. We know that’s not changing. We know that’s not going away. And so how do you have systems in place that really support that collaboration regardless of where you’re located?
And then thirdly it’s 76 percent of CFOs are not happy and not satisfied with the cross-functional collaboration between their operational planning and their financial planning. And when we think about why these different factors or these disparate stats exist, from a Microsoft perspective we’ve realized from especially working with small, medium size businesses, we know that traditional business management systems can be the reason for that.

If we go to the next slide, I just want to speak to a little bit about if you have a traditional outdated accounting and financing system in place, it could really be inhibiting the growth of your business and making it really difficult to adapt to these disruptions and this speed of change. And why is that? That’s because it could be manual. It could be really prone to human error. It could be super inefficient for your employees because it’s not a really easy to use interface that’s not easily accessible all the time anywhere they’re at. And so, you’re reducing your workforce effectiveness and efficiency, you’re creating more frustration for them, you’re moving them from spending time on really a lot of strategic work.

If you really have a, let’s say, a traditional more outdated accounting system that just does the basics, it’s time to think about what that’s been causing for you. Has it been leading to more frustrated employees? Has it been leading to maybe increased costs or hidden costs that weren’t really in your purview. And just looking at it overall is it maybe not allowing you to have better profit margins.

So from a Microsoft perspective, the way we see ourselves providing value, if you go to the next slide, and I won’t drain this because I know if you’re reached at this point of the webinar series you’ve already hears about Business Central. But we’ve put together one single, easy-to-use application for it to be really truly your connected business management solution across finance, sales, service, supply chain, operations. Really bringing it all into one suite that can give you that level of insights and reporting that you would need in order to make relay smart decisions and really be able to drive your business forward.

Think of this as your one go-to application, but it – the really cool thing about this is when you’re investing in Business Central, you’re investing in the full Microsoft stock and you’re getting that benefit and level of technology from an enterprise down to your size of a customer as a small, medium size business.

If you go the next slide, I really want to just highlight a little bit about how Business Central sits on the full Microsoft technology staff. So, starting with the bottom, you see that Business Central runs on the most trusted and comprehensive cloud and that really is Microsoft Azure. You’re getting the state-of-the-art security infrastructure just by investing in Business Central. But the cool thing is, is you’re also really able to extend the solution. Let’s say you got Business Central and you’re like, “I want to add more capability. I want to develop more in-house processes.” You don’t have to go and invest it in somewhere else. You can actually extend that using Low-code tools like Power Platform, or professional coding tools like our developer Azure tools.

And lastly, I think this is one that probably resonates with most of you, a lot of you may already be using the Office Productivity Suite, so it integrates very seamlessly with this.

I’m going to pass it back to Paul just to wrap us up on this section. But I really just want to thank everyone for your time. We’ll definitely take questions at the end as well for anything that’s come up that you’re more curious on.

Paul Duffy (00:11:16):
Thanks, Nour, appreciate that. Appreciate the presentation. It really reminded me of our first webinar with our client from Nanoleaf who spoke about the benefits that they had about implementing Business Central, which were substantial, especially when you have a strategy to implement it. So yeah, with that said I want to transition over to Soumya to kind of speak about CDAP and the program, how it can help you with a government grant that you can put towards strategizing and implementing digital transformation projects such as Business Central. Soumya, I’ll pass it over to you.

Soumya Ghosh (00:11:56):
Thank you, Paul. If you can go to the next slide. Thanks for both Paul and Nour actually for setting the stage to have this conversation. The Government of Canada launched this program, the Canada Digital Adoption program or CDAP as you’ll hear a lot today, about last year really with the intent of enabling small, medium businesses or small, medium enterprises leverage digital technology to grow their business.

Augmenting to the information that Nour shared on the IDC research where it talks about, like, you know, 20 percent of small medium businesses cannot pivot fast enough to digitize their operations. The government did similar research and they found that especially in the small, medium business segment that digitization is not happening fast enough when they compare the data in Canada with other countries such as Europe or the United States.

The program was announced really to incentivize the organizations of operations of back office or customer engagement for small, medium businesses, through this particular program.

Now I’ll get into the specifics of the program in a moment but before I do so just keep in mind when I’m using the word digital or technology on this particular context it’s a pretty bread definition. So do not restrict your thinking into – that it’s only a software. It could actually include software, hardware and even like smart internet of things base equipment and whatnot. OK. So digital from the government’s perspective, the way they have looked at it, is pretty broad. It’s any kind of technology that you can leverage or use to improve your operations or introduce efficiencies is part of this program.

With that context in mind, I’ll talk a little bit about the specifics of the program. The Canada Digital Adoption Program has two streams. Stream 1, stream 2. Today we are primarily talking about stream 2, which is also known as the Boost Your Business Technology Grant. The Boost Your Business Technology Grant had two components to it. OK, the first one is a $15,000 grant that the government is providing for you to engage a government approved advisor to come and assess your organization, understands the challenges and the opportunities or disruptions that are being face in their industry, and then recommend you with solution options or technology options that you can utilize along with the timeline and investment. So that’s kind of what the grant cover, the $15,000 grant. And it’s unique in nature because you know, as you – as Paul mentioned, we, MNP, you know, caters to this mid-market segment where the small, medium businesses are our clients. And we have been implementing this digital transformation or strategies for these clients for quite some years. And not – we just didn’t form this team because of CDAP.

Throughout those years we have noticed that small, medium enterprise, when they have a challenge or a problem ten to kind of, yeah, find the investment that they need to buy the solution directly, and they tend to skip that critical step of planning or strategizing or taking a step back, looking at their organization holistically and saying, “Hey, you know what? Is this the right path forward?” We did see a lot of that happening before this program was announced last year. So essentially what this program does, it provides this $15,000 grant which covers 90 percent of the expenses for you to engage an expert government approved advisor to create that plan for you. OK. And I’ll get into the specific of the plan and some of the areas that we have assessed as part of this initiative. But that’s what the grant is meant for. You will not be able to use this grant to buy any of the software or the licences or do the implementation work. The grant is primarily to create a digital strategy or a plan.

Now once you go through this process of taking the grant, creating the plan, then you will be eligible to get u to $100,000 of interest-free loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada to implement the initiatives or the activities identified in the plan. OK. Now, so, just to summarize it’s a grant to create a plan followed by an interest-free loan to implement the plan.

Now for example details on the grant side, as I mentioned it covers 90 percent of the expenses of creating the plan, so there is always a 10 percent out-of-pocket expense from your side. And as long as you satisfy the four qualification criteria that’s listed here, you will definitely get the grant. OK. The full criteria, I’ll just repeat it, it’s to incorporate federally – you should be incorporated federally or provincially or be a Canadian resident sole proprietor, for profit organizations, have between 1 and 499 employees, and a revenue of between half a million and $100 million. OK. So that’s the criteria. As long as you satisfy those criteria you will get the $15,000 grant.

Now coming to the loan side of the equation, the loan, as I mentioned, it’s interest free, and it’s interest free for up to six years. And the way it works once you go through the process, you make the plan, you get the grant, you apply for the loan, and then you get one year to do the implementation. In this case, if it’s Business Central implementation you will get up to one year to do the implementation followed by five year of interest free period. Which is what the repayment period is.

So that’s kind of how the loan is structured. The other big difference I’ll mention on the grant side you have to go with the government approved digital advisor, and MNP Digital is a government approved advisor. On the implementation side you have a little bit more flexibility. You can go with a tool of your choice, you can go with the vendor or your choice, or you can decide to do the implementation using in-house resources as well. Because the loan covers not just eh cost of buying the solution, but the cost of actually doing the implementation.

Aspects such as overall program management, change management, training your employees, in a staff at a time, everything could be paid for by that interest fee loan. OK. Paul, slide please.

So, that’s kind of the structure of the program and you know, and this slide will talk a little bit about how MNP can help. Now you know, we have been delivering this program centrally across the nation – across Canada and I’m the national lead for this program. These are the five steps that we have been primarily doing for our clients.

The first one is to make sure that you’re eligible for the grant and then helping you with the grant application support. Now the grant application support is – it’s pretty simple. It’s all online. It takes around 20, 25 minutes to apply for the grant, get the approval from the government and then provide all the documentation and whatever. But if you are stuck or if you have any questions with the process, we can definitely provide that support to you as well. The only thing is we will not be able to do it on your behalf. OK.

The eligibility assessment and the grant application support is something that we are doing for a lot of our clients. And that’s part of the pre-project phase. OK, so we have started the assessment yet. Those are the steps where we will support you just to make sure you have the adequate support to go through the application process.

Once we do that, then comes the actual project implementation where using that $15,000 grant will – you know, will come in with a team of experts who will understand not just your unique challenges but also your industry. We do have team members who have specialization in specific industries such as constructions or manufacturing or agriculture. And a few others. We’ll come to your organization with that team to do the business needs assessment. Then with the information we collect we’ll review solution options and build the final strategy and the roadmap which we are calling as the grateful adoption plan.

Where have we helped our clients? Remember that initially I mentioned that this particular grant is not just for one specific area of your business. It’s a pretty broad – it’s a grant that can be applied in a pretty broad context. We have been running several projects over the last few years and these are some of the areas where we have helped our clients. A lot of our clients are coming in and saying, “Hey, you know what? We have –” and it’s a combination of areas too. It’s not that we are focusing on one area. It depends on your unique context and situation. We can look into how you are managing your customers, how you are managing your operations, your back office as well as aspects around digital foundations. But you know, depending on which areas are important to you we can look into, like, aspects such as simple things such as website development to digital marketing search and optimization on one end, to building you an e-commerce platform and integrating that to your inventory management and financial accounting systems to improve – bringing in or recommending, you know, various tools such as, like, augmented reality and virtual reality to improve your customer experience.

On the operations side, most of the projects that we have worked on are around process automation, so moving from this paper-based process to automating those processes using modern tools such as Power Platforms and things like that, as well as work a lot on the field services. Again, depending on the industry, we have worked on field services, workforce integrations and things like that.

On the back office the typical projects have been around what Paul’s focus area is to say, “Hey, we have outgrown our financial systems. It’s not meeting our needs, and we would like to upgrade to a more of an enterprise resource planning. Or ERP system can you help us not just identify the solution but also create a plan as to how we should be implementing or thinking about the implementation.

And then last but not least on digital foundations we have worked with clients who are a little bit larger operations on data management and content management as well as on cybersecurity. OK?
The key message here – and again I’m not trying to create a boundary, is to make sure that as you’re thinking of the grant and where you can apply, both the $15,00 grant as well as the loan, think of it in broader terms. And when we come in, we start with the broader context, narrow it down and then go from there.

 The next slide we’ll talk about kind of your journey through the process. OK, what kind of aspects are we – we’ll talk about as we go through that project or the assessment exercise of creating that digital adoption plan. From our perspective, I know there are a couple of other approaches and whatnot, but we are coming in to create a – to do an assessment and create the digital adoption plan, really based on your unique business context. And it could vary based on your industry or even within an industry what’s your digital maturity like? You know, you might be very mature and then we’re talking about innovation, or you might be just at the very beginning and we’re talking about putting in the foundations together, right?

Irrespective of which spectrum you fall in we’ll always start with your business context. And we’ll work with you, assess your organization to identify challenges and opportunities that exist. And then you know, really identify some of the focus areas that we think you should invest.

Our primary objective here is always to identify focus area. That’s where making investments using digital tools or technologies gives you the most ROI. So just because you have a grant and a loan, we will not be creating a shopping list for you where you can just go and buy some solutions. We’ll always take the perspective of whether investment in this area will give you the return on the benefit or set you up for success in the longer term.

So that’s the focus area for it. That’s kind of our first step. And with that information then we’ll move on to talk a little bit about what your future state should look like or will look like. We’ll talk about the future state and envisioning a workshop. We’ll collect detailed requirements, and then based on the requirements or your unique needs and your unique business context, we’ll go out to the market, do our assessment and analysis, and come back to you with not just one recommendation, but a minimum of three solution options.

And that’s the beauty of this report or this overall process and the grant is that we’ll not corner you to say, “Hey, this is the only thing you should do.” We’ll get back to you with a minimum of three options that will give you the information you need to make a better decision as to which path will fit your needs or investment appetite.

Now for each of the solution options that we have identified we’ll do a cost benefit analysis. So that you identify, hey, if I go with option 1 this is the kind of investment we are looking at and this will be my potential return, versus option 2 and option 3. So that’s kind of what we’ll be doing next, followed by an overall timeline that works for you and your business, and you know, considers the resource constraints or the capacity restraints that you have, and then we’ll go and create the overall investment roadmap that will help you implement the recommendations that we provide.

So that’s kind of what will be essentially part of that digital adoption plan, the box that you see here in orange.

Now, once you have the digital adoption plan in place, this is kind of the step where the $15,000 grant from the government will help you get to. As I mentioned it covers 90 percent so there is a 10 percent investment from your side.
Now once you have this digital adoption plan, the next step is optional but it’s a great next step, is that you can take the plan, go to the Business Development Bank of Canada, apply for the interest free loan, receive the loan, implement the adoption plan resulting in business growth.

So that’s kind of how the overall journey on CDAP will look like.

So, what can we do to get started? In terms of the – you know, how do we get started, it’s pretty simple. From our perspective, well, if you move on to the next slide. It’s to – if you have any questions, comments, or concern, you can email to CDAP support at MNP.ca, or visit MNPdigital.ca/CDAP. I’ll leave this screen on to you and I’ll pass it back to Paul. And then we’ll get started on the questions. Paul, back to you.

Paul Duffy (00:28:40):
Thanks Soumya. We’re just going to pause for a minute to see if there’s any questions coming in and then we’ll transition in the webinar. If there’s any questions, please don’t hesitate to put them in the chat, and Soumya and I will do our best to answer.

Great. Don’t see any questions coming in. Again, like Soumya said, don’t hesitate to contact us at CDAP support at MNP.ca. or visit our website listed below, but we’ll also follow up with email after the webinar as well with this information.

And yeah, just to recap, we’ve now completed our webinar series. The first webinar that we did was around Business Central and it being the right solution. The second webinar we discussed Power Platform and how you can extend Business Central and some of that functionality in automation. And then we just spoke to today about CDAP and finding opportunities on how you can jumpstart the digital transformation. All these webinars, like I mentioned at the top, will be on demand and we’ll also send a link out to those shortly too.

Thanks again for joining. And appreciate those who joined for the whole series and look forward to speaking with you all soon. Have a great day.

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