Digital advisors

The Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) has a large network of digital advisors across the country. The application process to become a digital advisor is closed.


What is a digital advisor?

A digital advisor registered with CDAP is an organization that meets and maintains all of the required criteria to deliver digital advisory services to eligible Canadian SMEs. Digital advisors are required to provide vendor neutral advice in the provision of advisory services to SMEs and will be subject to CDAP's Code of Conduct. Registered Digital Advisors work with eligible SMEs to develop digital adoption plans tailored to the needs of the client. Digital adoption plans must meet the minimum viable elements identified in the CDAP digital adoption plan guide.

Why do we need digital advisors?

The pandemic has changed the way Canadians do business. Companies, employees and customers are doing more and more business online. Canadian businesses need to adopt new digital technologies to meet their customers' needs and stay competitive. The Boost Your Business Technology grant aims to help SMEs where the digital adoption is more sophisticated, requiring more advanced technology, such as small manufacturing and food processing operations, among others. Supporting a digital economy will help Canadian companies grow and create more jobs and will be crucial to Canada's long-term competitiveness. CDAP helps SMEs accelerate their digital transformation to fuel economic recovery. Before meaningful transformation can happen, SMEs need an effective digital adoption plan. Digital advisors help SMEs create digital adoption plans that will take them to the next level along their business journey. Digital advisors that meet specific eligibility criteria are listed on the program's digital advisor marketplace, where interested SMEs can retain their services.

Important notes:

  • Technology vendors are ineligible for registration on the marketplace at this time.
  • The decision to retain any particular digital advisor from the marketplace is entirely the SME's prerogative.
  • Registration on the marketplace does not guarantee funding for digital advisors. Digital advisors can only be remunerated if an SME decides to retain their services.
  • CDAP does not endorse or certify any advisor or organization listed on the marketplace.

How it works

  • Digital advisors that meet the eligibility criteria register to be a digital advisor by using the online registration form.
  • After submitting the registration form, applicants will receive a link to an online portal by email, and they must complete their application through the portal.
  • CDAP reviews the applications and if approved, the digital advisor is listed on CDAP's Digital Advisor Marketplace.
  • SMEs will choose a digital advisor from this marketplace and together, they will agree to terms of work and start working on the SMEs digital adoption plan. This includes:
    • assessing their current digital maturity and recommending tailored digital solutions to support the SME's business strategy
    • recommending a plan and creating a roadmap to guide the SMEs transformation journey
  • Once the plan is complete, the SME will upload their plan to the portal and receive the grant.

Eligibility criteria

Eligibility requirements for digital advisors

Digital advisors listed on the marketplace may be businesses, post-secondary institutions, business accelerators and incubators, independent for-profit and non-profit service providers with an expertise in small business digital transformation.

In order to be listed on the marketplace, digital advisors must meet the following eligibility criteria:  

  • hold a relevant post-secondary degree or diploma or certification from a recognized institution Footnote 1 in a relevant field (e.g., computer science, engineering, business or commerce, digital or information technology or systems; an MBA, CPA or related professional designation is preferred)
  • have a minimum of five years of experience providing digital advisory services
  • have experience in developing a minimum of three digital business strategies, models, products or services
  • have expertise in digital technology solutions for SMEs (e.g. Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Relationship Management) in various industries (e.g. manufacturing, distribution, retail, construction) including back office solutions to improve operational efficiencies;
  • have experience in executing digital technology selection processes and structural analytical techniques
  • be able to provide all elements of a CDAP digital adoption plan (as per the CDAP digital adoption plan guide)

Important notes:

Digital advisors must disclose if they or the organization they represent is a technology vendor (e.g., selling a particular product or software). Digital advisors must provide vendor neutral advice to clients, and as such, advisors that also serve as vendors will not be permitted to register at this time.

CDAP will perform reviews of digital advisors to ensure their attestations are valid.

Negotiating your service

Key elements in the terms of agreement between the SMEs and the digital advisors

Before a digital advisor starts working on a digital adoption plan for an SME, they need to agree to the terms of the agreement to provide digital advisory services in writing. SMEs will be reimbursed for 90% of the cost of developing the digital adoption plan (to a maximum of $15,000) after the plan has been completed. Written agreements should include:

  • objectives of the digital advisory services to be provided
  • detailed work plan, including steps, milestones, and deliverables and associated timelines
  • the effort and activities that are minimally needed to meet CDAP criteria that the SME will need to execute for the project
  • the roles, responsibilities and effort of each consultant proposed
  • proposed fees and a payment schedule

Digital advisor code
of conduct

Trust is the foundation of every successful business relationship. Digital advisors registered under CDAP are expected to demonstrate a willingness to establish and maintain a trusting relationship with their SME clients and the government of Canada. As such, digital advisors are required to adhere to the following program code of conduct as a condition of being registered on the DA Marketplace.

Under the code of conduct, digital advisors must:

  • ensure they continue to meet CDAP's eligibility criteria and adhere to program rules at all times while registered on the DA marketplace, and while working with SMEs;
  • be aware of and comply with all applicable legislation and laws that apply to them at all times
  • uphold the integrity of the program/CDAP;
  • not represent themselves as agents, partners or employees of the Government of Canada/ISED. Digital advisors shall only represent themselves or their business/organization;
  • not apply for any program support on behalf of the SME, including completing the application for the Grow Your Business Online or Boost Your Business Technology grant, the Business Development of Canada (BDC) loan or the Funded Work Placement with Magnet;
  • foster a professional environment by exemplifying respect, fairness, courtesy, and integrity in all dealings with the SME client and CDAP/ISED program representatives and delivery partners;
  • exercise neutrality and professionalism in the provision of consulting advice and assistance to SME clients;
  • avoid any conflicts of interest in the provision of advisory services to SME clients, including refraining from providing such services to businesses owned or managed by the advisor or businesses owned or managed by family membersFootnote 1 and/or relatives of the advisor or businesses in which the advisor has an interest;
  • take appropriate measures to ensure the confidentiality and protection of information provided by the SME clients;
  • act in a manner that respects individual differences and contributes to a harassment-free workplace (virtually or in-person)
  • follow the program's guidelines for promotion of their servicesFootnote 2
  • invoice for eligible costs actually incurred by the DA such as fees associated to the development of a digital adoption plan. Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to fees related to applying for the grant, wage subsidy and loan.

Monitoring process:

CDAP undertakes regular and ongoing monitoring of all program activities to ensure compliance with the code of conduct.

Should CDAP identify signs of potential violations, CDAP may contact the relevant parties to inform them of the relevant rules and gather more information. The program may pause any associated files until review of a potential violation is complete. If CDAP determines that a violation of the code of conduct, the digital adoption plan guide or program rules has occurred, or that a trusting relationship cannot be established, CDAP may decide to suspend or remove the digital advisor from the marketplace.

It is the digital advisor's responsibility to inform any/all CDAP-SME clients of the change in status and remove information on their website referencing themselves as a registered CDAP-Boost Your Business Technology digital advisor.

Digital advisors who receive unsatisfactory ratings on the SME client feedback survey may be removed from the digital advisor marketplace.

Additional review for multiple digital adoption plans completed for businesses with the same owner and/or franchises:

Whenever two or more digital adoption plans are submitted by businesses with the same owner or from the same franchise, CDAP reserves the right to require additional documentation from the SME or the digital advisor to verify the work undertaken with each business. This documentation can include, but is not limited to:

  • Timesheets including hours, consulting rates, and dates
  • Interview notes
  • Proof of payment
  • Attestations confirming the work completed from the SME or digital advisor

CDAP may also require additional documentation from SMEs or digital advisors where digital adoptions plans contain similar or identical content. Where possible, digital adoption plans should demonstrate sufficiently distinct analysis of business needs and technology recommendations based on the individual work undertaken with each business.

Disclaimer: Although pre-selected by the Government of Canada/ISED, digital advisors are not agents, partners, or employees of the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada/ISED does not warrant the quality of the services provided by such advisors and is not responsible for any losses or damages, which may result from using the services of an advisor. Any disputes should be resolved between the SME client and the digital advisor.