Case Study: Rapid Deployment of a Digital Strategy for COVID 19 Funding Assistance at Canadian Heritage

Government Agency Implements a Digital Service to Deploy COVID 19 Funding Assistance to Canadians

Canadian Heritage (PCH) is a Federal Agency with a portfolio of organizations that play a vital role in the cultural, civic and economic life of Canadians. Arts, culture, and heritage represent more than $53 billion to the Canadian economy and provideclose to 666,500 jobs in sectors such as film and video, broadcasting, music, publishing, archives, performing arts, heritage institutions, festivals and celebrations. 

COVID 19 Challenge

 The cultural industry is a major economic driver and is facing the impact of the COVID19 pandemic like many other sectorsTo address this challenge, Canadian Heritage reacted  quickly launching an Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations. 

Key challenges associated with this launch included: 

  • The Canadian Heritage Minister requested that the first program for Museum Assistance be designed, setup and made available to the public in a few weeks. 
  • Funding assistance of this type is provided through Grants and Contributions (G&C) programs and services, which is a complex government service delivery instrument requiring comprehensive application forms, due diligence, agreement generation, and the release of funds. 
  • COVID 19 quarantine measures are limiting social interaction associated with the traditional funding application process. 
  • A streamlined, online process for Funding Officers is key to promote the rapid release of funds to Canadian organizations in dire need. 

Moreover, PCH determined that its legacy technology base did not have the capabilities required to launch a modern digital service to Canadians, on an expedited time line, to minimize the impacts of the pandemic.    

The Solution

Rising to this challenge, PCH chose an advanced cloudbased technology platform, Microsoft D365, to launch the first funding assistance program for museum assistance. The D365 cloud platform was further accelerated with Grant+, an application provided by Eperformance, which provides the capability to design and deploy digital services for grant program delivery. Grant+ is powered by the new Microsoft PowerApps platform providing advanced functionality for creating digital services. 

PCH formed and led a highperformance team to design and implement this digital service solution on an aggressive timeline. This included dedicated resources from PCH, Microsoft Canada, and Eperformance working in tight formation to gather requirements, design the program, and remove all technical obstacles that impacted the project deadline. 

This cloud-based solution was scalable to support high volumes of applicants applying at the same time. It provided the capability for applicants and program officers to engage electronically from self-registration, through application, to the release of funds to recipients. The public facing online access for applicants was intuitive resulting in a high-quality user experience. 


Successes and Lessons Learned 

The PCH led team successfully launched the Museum Assistance Program within the aggressive timeline set by the minister. Moreover, within the two weeks following the online launchPCH grant officers used this new digital service to process, approve and fund over 400 applicants. This resulted in an immediate infusion of $14,000,000 into the economy, to combat the impact of the pandemic. 

In addition to launching the Museum Assistance Program in 3 weeks, the PCH led team used this momentum to launch a second online program, the Canada Periodical Fund, which was brought to the public in 14 days! 

A key benefit of this new digital service platform is that it streamlines 
PCH Grants and Contributions service delivery, improving
efficiency and providing  Applicant relationshipManagement, engaging Applicants electronically and avoiding physical contact. Also important, is that the resulting Digital Service is compliant with Federal government standards for security, privacy and accessibility. 

A key lesson learned on this project was that a high level of communication and coordination was required between project stakeholders. PCH senior management, and project management provided clear direction, and timely decision making, Microsoft brought key technical resources and COVID19 support as an integrated resource for the team, and Eperformance provided a highperformance team equipped with grant automation tools, and expertise in Digital Service delivery for grant management. This dedicated partnership made the aggressive deadline achievable.  

With this project, PCH has successfully implemented a cloud-ready foundation as a catalyst for an agency-wide Digital Strategy to evolve PCH Grants and Contributions digital strategy into the future, with a high-quality customer experience. Through this responsive digital platform, based on an advanced client and case management technology platform, PCH can onboard a new online service, for a funding business area, in record time, to battle the pandemic, or meet the ever-changing objectives of the Agency. 

About the Author

The author has developed this paper to encourage a dialog on best practices in Digital Strategies for the Public Sector.  He welcomes feedback on this paper as further input to the research process.

Eric Alain, Enterprise Architect

Mr. Alain is the CEO of Eperformance Inc. His 30 year career in government automation is highlighted by last ten years which he has spent developing an international practice in the area of CRM based Digital Strategies for the Public Sector. In conjunction with Government program professionals, he has participated in the development of standards and better practices in this specialty area. Mr. Alain has focused his efforts to assist government organizations in the design and application of methodologies and technologies aimed at streamlining the grants & contributions program delivery process through automation. His experience has led to in-depth involvement with many government standards, e-Gov initiatives, and better practices that impact grant and funding programs at all levels of government.

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