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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

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Evaluation of Foreign Affairs and International Trade's Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) Regional OFfices (ROS)

(November 2008)

(PDF Version, 905 KB) *


Executive Summary

Objectives and Context

This report represents the findings of an evaluation of DFAIT's Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) Regional Offices (ROs) undertaken during January to April 2008. The objectives of the evaluation were: to provide senior departmental managers with a structured assessment of the processes and systems used to plan, resource, coordinate, implement and report on program performance within the Regional Offices; to assess the capacity of the Regional Offices; and to determine the role that the Regional Offices are playing in international business development vis-à-vis key partners such as other government departments and agencies, provinces, territories, associations and municipalities.

In December 2003, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) assumed responsibility for the Regional Offices, formerly of Industry Canada, with 12 offices located across Canada. With this transfer of responsibility, came a fundamental realignment of their focus, aimed at better servicing the needs of Canadian businesses and organizations in their target markets for export development and an increased mandate to also include services related to investment and science and technology/innovation.

With the recent approval of the new Global Commerce Strategy (GCS), enhancing the capacity of the domestic network is a key component to achieving the Government's objective of increasing Canadian prosperity through greater Canadian participation in international commerce. As such, the GCS is intended to significantly increase the number of Canadian firms engaged in international commerce with the aim of increasing Canadian productivity and competitiveness, and with it, Canadian prosperity. In April 2008, funding will be provided to the ROs to implement the GCS.

There are 12 TCS Regional Offices with at least one in each of the Canadian provinces as well as one satellite office in Quebec City. Extended coverage to the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut is provided from other regional offices (BC and Alberta). The four Maritime Provinces (Atlantic Region) and the three Prairie provinces (Prairie and Northern Region) are grouped together with a Regional Director overseeing the individual Regional Offices.

The evaluation study comprised of site visits to Québec (Montreal and Québec City), Ontario (Toronto), Atlantic (St. John's and Halifax), Prairie and Northern Region (Calgary and Edmonton), and British Columbia (Vancouver). During the site work, interviews were carried out with staff, as well as with a selected sample of partners and business clients. Telephone interviews were conducted with the four Regional Offices (Moncton, New Brunswick; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan) not covered through onsite visits. The evaluation also included an online survey of staff, an online survey of RO clients, as well as a survey of over 50 DFAIT missions/posts.

Findings

Overall, the evaluation found that the Regional Offices are well regarded and highly valued by the many business clients and partners that depend on them for a link to the DFAIT international network of missions/posts. The level of satisfaction with the Regional Offices is high, with over 90% of the RO clients surveyed indicating that they are satisfied or very satisfied with the services provided. Similar results also emerged from the interviews with staff at the missions and the partners in the provincial government and the federal regional development agencies.

Notwithstanding the above, the Regional Offices are faced with a number of challenges as follows:

  • The provincial governments as well as the federal regional development agencies such as The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) have much greater resources for export development and investment attraction than does DFAIT. They also have broader mandates than the ROs in the provision of services in other areas of economic development;
  • Federal regional development agencies, in comparison to DFAIT's Regional Offices, often have a much stronger profile. As well, the provinces have much greater provincial coverage through regional offices and a larger number of staff available to work with businesses.
  • The DFAIT Regional Offices, particularly those in the major centers (especially, Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal), are under-resourced and burdened with administrative and other tasks not specifically focused on clients, thereby reducing the time available to service business clients and thereby undermining their ability to focus on client acquisition and retention.

Nonetheless, the Regional Offices are uniquely positioned as the main linkage between the Canadian government and private sector organizations and the DFAIT missions abroad. The ROs are highly valued for their ability to provide advice to businesses on the international business environment. As well, their ability to connect partners and business clients to appropriate contacts in the missions and in target markets is also considered invaluable.

The detailed findings of the evaluation follow.

Governance and Management

Mandate and Objectives

The evaluation found that, although the mandate and objectives for the Regional Offices (ROs) within DFAIT are well documented and well understood by senior DFAIT staff, over half of the RO staff, as well as staff at the DFAIT missions, do not believe that their role is well enough defined vis-à-vis the missions and other members of the regional trade networks. As well, the evaluation found that there is a need to increase awareness of the DFAIT ROs throughout DFAIT and with other regional partners.

The evaluation team also found that the role ROs play varies from region to region depending on the resources and coverage provided by the federal regional development agencies and the provincial ministries; the level of coordination and collaboration among members of the regional trade networks in the province; and the size and nature of the SME exporting community in the region. The RO role is also affected by the profile of the RO and the relationships the Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) has developed with these networks varying in degree by how each of them believe the network should be utilized.

As a result, the evaluation concluded that the ROs have to more clearly define their role and comparative advantage within the regional trade networks and seek to obtain clarification and an understanding of their role versus that of the province in the areas of trade, investment and ST/innovation.

The TCS recently initiated an integrated approach to trade, investment and science and technology/innovation for Trade Commissioners. Given its very recent introduction, the evaluation confirmed that the integrated approach has been slowly evolving. The evaluation indicated a need for increased training for officers and some re-consideration of the competencies of personnel that may be required in the future to apply this approach.

Business Planning

The evaluation concluded that the business plans primarily focus on major events and initiatives, as these are often agreed to in advance with partners. Although the overall planning cycle works well, there are some areas, which could be strengthened:

  • The annual plans do not include information (or a section) that specifically discusses the strategic positioning of the RO and the overall positioning and strategy that the RO wishes to take with respect to the RTN. In particular, the RO doesn't describe their role in each of the areas of export development, investment, and science and technology/innovation vis-à-vis others offering similar or related services in the same region;
  • The annual plans do not specifically address all of the resource estimates and requirements to undertake the workplan;
  • Although outreach to clients and working with clients is considered a key objective for the ROs, the plans do not expressly identify the potential client base, objectives for new client acquisition, and the approach and the resources that will be allocated to client-centered activities.

As a result, business plans prepared by the ROs have tended to be unclear regarding the objectives that they should be striving for and the approach that should be taken with respect to clients. The different capacities of the various provincial governments in terms of working with clients in export development and investment attraction also make planning appropriate coverage of existing and potential clients difficult.

The evaluation concluded, based on the interviews and survey results that the administrative policies and guidelines concerning local travel and hospitality impede the ability of Trade Commissioners at the ROs to effectively interact with clients. Government policies require sign-offs by senior levels and with the ROs these resources reside at headquarters making it difficult for them to easily make travel and hospitality arrangements.

The centralization of the human resource and finance functions in Ottawa with no representation at the regional level requires good coordination and communication with the headquarters divisions responsible for each area. Regional Offices have indicated that while the communications with the DFAIT RO Support Division (WTD) has been good, there have been problems in communicating with the HR and Finance divisions, and in receiving prompt and accurate service from these divisions. This has also impacted negatively on the efficiency of the RO operations.

Communications and coordination with the missions/posts abroad are generally satisfactory although the quality of coordination varies from both the RO and the mission/post points of view.

Relevance

The evaluation found that clients surveyed were satisfied with the services received from the regional office staff. Interviewees in all six provinces visited were adamant about the need for a DFAIT regional office to assist them in developing connections to the missions/posts abroad and by obtaining direct input and advice on their international business development plans.

The evaluation found that the regions review their sectoral priorities in light of the Business Planning Guidelines issued by DFAIT Headquarters and what ROs believe to be the most important sectors in their province. The number of sectors covered will be contingent on the resources that ROs have available. However, regional coverage within the provinces was found to be insufficient, especially in the larger provinces (Ontario, Québec, BC).

The evaluation found that the knowledge that RO staff have of their sectors should be based on a general knowledge of the companies that they cover. The provincial representatives and the client companies greatly value continuity of officers and good knowledge of the companies. Strong technical understanding of the sector is not required, and in fact all of the provincial governments appear to have strong sectoral analysis capacity themselves.

Effectiveness

All of the regions rely on partnerships (either formal or informal), with other federal agencies and with provincial organizations in trade development and export attraction, vis-à-vis their regional trade networks (RTNs). The evaluation found that the partnership arrangements vary from well-defined formal arrangements to highly informal networks that are used solely for information sharing. DFAIT depends on partners to assist in reaching out to clients and to fund various events. The partners in turn depend on the DFAIT ROs as a window into the federal system, and as a link to the DFAIT missions/posts abroad.

This evaluation indicated that the RTNs provide essential leverage of DFAIT resources, both financial and non-financial. RTN partners often are the main source of funds for clients, with DFAIT providing the knowledge and expertise. Partners often have much more extensive contact networks, which enables DFAIT to increase its own client base.

The evaluation indicated that only the Prairie and Northern Region has struck a formal MOU with the provinces in that region (i.e., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). The other provinces generally operate on an informal basis. Nova Scotia has a formal structure for the RTN, but does not have an actual MOU with DFAIT.

Performance indicators have been developed by a WTD and Regional Office working group for the Export/Investment components of the International Business Development program. It is the understanding of the evaluation team that this performance grid has not been finalized. Available performance information at this time can be derived from two sources: the TRIO system, which is the current system used by DFAIT to capture client information and to record client-related transactions, and quarterly and annual reports and success stories provided by the ROs. A number of concerns have been identified with respect to using TRIO both as a client database as well as a performance measurement system since it was not developed for the purpose of collecting and measuring results achieved. Although TRIO can measure results in terms of client acquisition and interaction, TRIO does not provide for a robust performance measurement system in other areas of the work of the ROs and therefore provides only a small aspect of results expected from ROs.

The evaluation found that it is difficult to determine how much time trade commissioners in the ROs devote to individual task areas and to clients. The evaluation estimated that about 40% of trade commissioner time is devoted to serving clients. The rest of the time is devoted to working with partners, administration, and responding to queries from the posts and HQ. The evaluation also concluded that short-term pressures and excessive administrative workload and internal DFAIT requirements detract from the RO staff ability to spend more time servicing new and existing clients.

The lack of a coherent approach to client acquisition and the lack of specific objectives for working with clients have also contributed to less focus on clients by the ROs than management would like to see. ROs may approach client acquisition in different ways. The results of the evaluation suggest that the business clients are largely acquired as a result of follow-up on contacts made at trade events, conferences, etc, closely followed by client acquisition via cold calls, and referrals made by partners. The Prairie Northern Region initiated an approach for client acquisition, which is being disseminated nationally.

The evaluation team reviewed the allocation of resources to the Regional Offices mainly in terms of human resources. The methodology used to allocate resources is not clear, and does not necessarily relate to the potential for the development of new DFAIT clients with international business development interests at the provincial level. Furthermore, there are no resourcing standards for officers in the Regional Offices related to the number of active clients, numbers of SMEs, number of active exporters, and/or the resources required to carry out the business plan in the region.

A review of the allocation of staff and the funds available to run the regional office network indicated that the regional office budget is quite limited for the mandate that has been provided to them. The Evaluation Team's analysis indicated that relative to the number of exporting firms or value of exports, the Maritime Provinces are much better funded than Central, Western Canada, or British Columbia.

With respect to human resources, the evaluation team concluded that:

  • The RO staff does not as yet feel that they are an integral and valued part of the Trade Commissioner Service;
  • RO Trade Commissioners that are Commerce Officers believe that they do not have adequate access to overseas assignments and to language training that is necessary to advance their careers;
  • RO Trade Commissioners in positions designated unilingual do not have access to HQ based training where bilingualism is a requirement. Since some courses are offered in a bilingual format, these individuals are not able to understand the course content and consequently cannot obtain some of the necessary training required for their current job assignment;
  • ROs in Alberta have found it difficult to hire staff due to the competitive job market. Salaries in the western provinces do not take into account cost of living differences to Eastern Canada, and the lengthy hiring process results in many potential hires moving to other offers before an offer can be issued by DFAIT.
Recommendation #1
Clarification of the RO Role, Mandate and Business Strategies

Each DFAIT RO should define its role within the context of the TCS mandate but specifically to best fit the needs of the province, and the profiles of the federal and provincial partners in the Regional Trade Networks (RTN). This would require an expansion of the business planning exercise to identify the roles played by other organizations including provincial government and private sector agencies, and the overall positioning and strategy that the RO wishes to take with respect to their RTN.

DFAIT should also review the role that the ROs should play with respect to science and technology and investment development. Based on this assessment, the staff and training requirements should be identified, in order to permit the offices to function more effectively.

In this regard, Global Operations Branch should review and improve the business planning process so that the annual plans specifically discuss the strategic positioning of the RO; address all of the resource estimates and requirements to undertake the workplan; and identify the potential client base, objectives for new client acquisition; and the approach and resources that will be allocated to client-centered activities.

Recommendation #2:
Client Acquisition, Servicing and Retention

Clearer objectives, methods and approaches, and standards for client acquisition and maintenance should be developed for the ROs. This requires:

  • Guidelines or quantitative and qualitative objectives for officers in terms of the numbers and/or nature of business clients that can be managed by individual trade commissioners in the business communities in their regions;
  • Guidelines or quantitative and qualitative objectives for officers in terms of the numbers of new business clients that trade commissioners should try to recruit yearly in their region;
  • Guidelines for client acquisition;
  • Guidelines for contacting existing client companies, taking into account other provincial and regional partners.
Recommendation #3:
Alignment of Resources with Economic Activity

A more systematic methodology for the allocation of resources to Regional Offices should be developed. The methodology should take into consideration the number and nature of businesses in the province, the amount of international business emanating from the province, and the forecast workload of the office in terms of work with clients and special events.

Recommendation #4:
Awareness Building

Increased awareness of the role of the Regional Offices is needed to ensure that DFAIT staff in HQ and in the missions abroad fully understand and exploit the ROs. As part of this awareness building, the role and functions of the DFAIT ROs should be clearly described, and their mandate, particularly in the area of client acquisition and retention, should be identified and positioned in relation to the missions, headquarters, and the RTNs. The business community should also be included in the mix particularly given the views they expressed to the Evaluation Team such that business clients often discovered by accident that the ROs were the key interface with DFAIT's missions/posts. A communications campaign targeted at the business communities in each of the regions could be undertaken, however, at a time when the role of the ROs is fully defined and clarified.

Recommendation #5:
Coordination with Partners

The DFAIT ROs should encourage the provincial governments and other partners to agree on and then document the roles of each of the organizations within the Regional Trade Network in that particular province. This is to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure complementarities. It will also reduce excessive contacts with SMEs by multiple organizations with potential client fatigue. Although a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the RO and the provincial government is a preferred approach, similar to how the Prairie and Northern Region has been operating with its provincial counterpart, other workable arrangements that are understood by partners have also proven effective in the informal and formal linkages formed by various ROs with their key regional partners.

Recommendation #6:
Human Resources Management

Global Operations Branch should work closely with Human Resources to ensure that staff at ROs has access to overseas opportunities through postings or temporary duty assignments; and that staff in unilingual ROs have access to language training and to other HQ training as required to permit them to advance in their jobs.

With respect to hiring, DFAIT human resources should review the length of the hiring process to see if it can be streamlined or shortened. As well, Human Resources should review the feasibility of providing cost of living adjustment allowances to both rotational and non-rotational staff that move to higher cost locations in Canada.

A dedicated human resources officer or team is recommended to ensure that ROs are receiving a similar level of service as Divisions at HQ and missions/posts since many of the staff indicated a problem in this area.

Resourcing standards for ROs should also be developed based on the nature and level of workload in each office. Accurately measured workloads and estimated times to complete the various types of activities undertaken in the ROs should be considered in developing the standards.

Recommendation #7:
Streamlining Administrative Policies and Guidelines

DFAIT should review its administrative policies and guidelines to ensure that they provide ROs with the flexibility needed to do their job. In addition, the ROs should be provided with efficient service from HQ to ensure the timely processing of administrative requirements, e.g., travel authorities and claims, contracts and invoices for payment. It is recommended that the financial and administrative business process and procedures in operation in the ROs be reviewed in order to improve efficiency and to ensure that client-centered work is not impeded by administrative requirements. Consideration should be given to conducting an audit by the Chief Audit Executive (ZBD) in this regard.

Recommendation #8:
Need for Implementation of a Performance Measurement System

DFAIT should fully develop a performance measurement system for the ROs as part of its overall performance measurement strategy taking into consideration the work that has already been undertaken by the Regional Office Performance Measurement Working Group including examining the indicators that were developed and determining those that would yield useful information. The emphasis on the performance measurement system for the ROs should be toward ensuring that the right information is being collected for decision-making and that the ROs are not faced with an undue burden of unnecessary data collection impeding them from working with clients.

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Acronyms

ACOA
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
AIF
Atlantic Innovation Fund
BC
British Columbia
BDC
Business Development Bank of Canada
BI
Business Intelligence
CDIA
Canadian Direct Investment Abroad
CISP
Community Investment Support Program
CO
Commerce Officer
CSF
Client Service Fund
CFSI
Canadian Foreign Service Institute
DEC
Développement économique Canada
DFAIT
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
e-CRM
Electronic Client Relationship Management System
EDC
Export Development Canada
ERA
European Research Area
ERI
Enhanced Representation Initiative
FedNor
Federal Economic Development Initiative of Northern Ontario
FS
Foreign Service Officer
FTEs
Full-time Equivalents
GCS
Global Commerce Strategy
HQ
Headquarters
IBD
International Business Development
IGX
Global Partnership Program
IRAP
Industrial Research Assistance Program
ISTP
International Science and Technology Partnership
MEDT
Ministry of Economic Development and Trade
MOU
Memorandum of Understanding
NCR
National Capital Region
NRC
National Research Council
NGO
Non Governmental Organization
NWT
Northwest Territories
OGDs
Other Government Departments
PEI
Prince Edward Island
PMP
Performance Management Plan
PNR
Prairie and Northern Region
R D
Research and Development
RO
Regional Office
RTN
Regional Trade Network
S T
Science and Technology
SMEs
Small and Medium Enterprises
STC
Senior Trade Commissioner
SWOT Analysis
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis
TCS
Trade Commissioner Service
TCs
Trade Commissioners
VTC
Virtual Trade Commissioner
WD
Western Economic Diversification Canada
WTD
Trade Commissioner Service - Domestic Regional Offices Division
ZIE
Evaluation Division
ZBD
Chief Audit Executive Bureau

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1.0 Introduction and Context

1.1 Background to the Evaluation

In December 2003, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) assumed responsibility for the Regional Offices, formerly of Industry Canada, with 12 offices located across Canada. This transfer of responsibility included a fundamental realignment of its focus, aimed at better servicing the needs of Canadian businesses and organizations in their target markets for export development as well for investment and science and technology purposes. As the key domestic link in the international business intermediation continuum, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) Regional Offices (ROs) are positioned to assess, advise and directly connect Canadian firms (both experienced in, and new, to international commerce) to international business opportunities (including mature markets such as the U.S., and emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil) through DFAIT's global network.

Under the Global Commerce Strategy (GCS), enhancing the capacity of the domestic network is a key component to achieving the Government's objective of increasing Canadian prosperity through greater Canadian participation in international commerce. As such, the GCS is intended to significantly increase the number of Canadian firms engaged in international commerce with the aim of increasing Canadian productivity and competitiveness, and with it, Canadian prosperity. Specifically, the role of the Regional Offices will be extended to include:

  • Providing expanded services to existing business clients;
  • Acquiring new business clients, particularly SMEs; and
  • Encouraging Canadian firms to get engaged internationally through the provision of assessment and advisory services.

Consequently, it is anticipated that the demands on the Regional Offices will increase, requiring a subsequent increase in capacity.

As stated in the Treasury Board Submission on the GCS, the main functions of the Regional Offices are to:

  • Support businesses to succeed in an increasingly complex global economy through the provision of enhanced services;
  • Acquire new business clients and assess and advise them in preparation for international engagement;
  • Act as the first filter in the international business continuum, resulting in less demands on posts (where resources are much more costly) from companies not ready for international engagement;
  • Support numerous activities of Canada's network of missions/posts internationally;
  • Leverage the regional trade networks (RTNs) to provide value-added sectoral, market, technology and investment intelligence to clients and partners; and
  • Administer and deliver the Community Investment Support Program (CISP).

Regional Offices also serve to facilitate the work of the Regional Trade Networks (RTNs) to partners, complement and leverage international business programs and initiatives of other government departments (OGDs), other organizations, and other levels of government for export, investment and /or innovation purposes. In particular, the Regional Offices work proactively with key partners, including the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), Développement Économique Canada (DEC), provinces and territories, associations, and municipalities.

1.2 Structure of the Regional Offices

There are 12 TCS Regional Offices with at least one in each of the Canadian provinces as well as one satellite office in Quebec City. Extended coverage to the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut is provided from other regional offices (BC and Alberta). The four Maritime Provinces (Atlantic Region) and the three Prairie provinces (Prairie and Northern Region) are grouped together with a Regional Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) overseeing the individual Regional Offices.

Staffing comprises approximately 109 staff overall. Each of the Regional Offices comprises the STC (RO Director) and in some cases Deputy Directors, as well as Trade Commissioners, Trade Assistants, and Administrative Assistants. The Staffing complement varies by office; Ontario has administrative staff now dedicated to an Info Centre and administrative activities. Québec has 22 staff, with all of the administration carried out by the Trade Commissioner Assistants.

Of note, the complement of staff in the ROs includes staff provided either on a fulltime, or part-time basis from Heritage Canada, Agriculture Canada, and Industry Canada.

The staff complement by RO is as follows:

Table 1
 PacificPrairie Northern RegionOntarioQuébecAtlantic RegionTotal FTEs
AS1124311
CO81515131869
CR253 313
FS311319
SI  11 2
EX-01111115
Total FTEs by Region1522232226109

All Financial and Human Resource functions for the Regional Offices are handled out of Headquarters in Ottawa. The RO administrative capacity is quite limited and reflects generation of transactions and requests, which are generally completed in Ottawa HQ.

The Regional Offices are organized on a sector basis. Each Trade Commissioner has assigned sector responsibilities. Trade Commissioners also have responsibilities geographically (outside Canada), and within their own province. The primary focus of the Trade Commissioners is their assigned sectors.

1.3 Evaluation Context

1.3.1 Objectives of the Evaluation

The objectives of the evaluation were as follows:

  • To provide senior departmental managers with a structured assessment of the processes and systems used to plan, resource, coordinate, implement and report on program performance within the Regional Offices.
  • To assess the capacity of the Regional Offices in the achievement of short, medium and long term results.
  • To determine the role the Regional Offices are playing in international business development vis-à-vis key partners such as other government departments and agencies, provinces, territories, associations and municipalities.

The Evaluation is also meant to highlight both the strengths and weaknesses seen within the current structure of the TCS Regional Offices within Canada.

1.3.2 Evaluation Questions

The evaluation focused on the following generic evaluation issues: program governance/key management processes; relevance; effectiveness; and efficiency.

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2.0 Evaluation Methodology

2.1 Evaluation Design

The evaluation study incorporated site visits to Québec (Montreal and Québec City), Ontario (Toronto), Atlantic (St. John's and Halifax), Prairie and Northern Region (Calgary and Edmonton), and British Columbia (Vancouver). Each regional visit took approximately 3-4 days to conduct interviews and focus groups with a number of respondents. During the site work, interviews were carried out with staff, as well as a selected sample of partners and business clients. In addition, regional site visits afforded the opportunity to review regional data and documents. Telephone interviews were also conducted with the four Regional Offices not covered through regional onsite visits.

The following activities were carried out as part of the data collection for the evaluation of the ROs:

  • Interviews with DFAIT program managers at headquarters (HQ) (19 respondents);
  • Interviews with Senior Trade Commissioners (in person and telephone) (8 respondents);
  • Interviews with Partners of RO and the RTN (48 respondents);
  • Interviews with Business Clients (4 respondents);
  • Focus groups with Business Clients, primarily SMEs (15 respondents)
  • Focus groups with regional office Staff in five regions, including both administrative staff and Trade Commissioners (51 respondents);
  • Evidence-based online survey of DFAIT Staff at the Regional Offices (101 respondents of 109 staff);
  • Evidence-based online survey of Business Clients across Canada (109 respondents);
  • Evidence-based e-mail questionnaire of selected missions/posts abroad (28 respondents of 22 missions/posts); and
  • Analysis of selected operational data on the Regional Offices.

All interviews were documented and recorded in a Microsoft database to facilitate analysis.

2.2 Survey Methodology

A survey of regional office staff and business clients were conducted as part of this evaluation. The survey was designed only in one format: an Internet format, in which VOXCO software was used to facilitate the process.

2.2.1 Sampling

Two online surveys were conducted, one with the TCS regional office staff and one with business clients of the regional offices. To implement the staff survey, a request was sent via e-mail to the regional offices, requesting that all staff participate in an online survey. Similarly for the business client survey, an e-mail request was sent to senior trade commissioners (STCs) to send the survey to 40-50 clients per region. The business client survey was selected by the regional offices, and was supposed to be representative of their current client base.

The response rate for regional office staff and business clients was 93% and 40%, respectively.

In addition, an open-ended questionnaire was e-mailed to 57 DFAIT mission/post offices abroad. Further details of the samples are presented on the following page.

2.2.2 Response Rates

The overall survey response rates for the surveys were based on the calculation formula used by Statistics Canada and Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (industry standard). The online survey statistics for the survey are the following:

Table 2: Total Surveys Conducted Completed
 RO StaffBusiness ClientsMission/Post Staff *
Total Sample10927057
Completed Surveys10110922
Response rates:
  • Total RO Staff = (Completed Surveys)/(Total Sample) = 93%
  • Total Business Clients = (Completed Surveys)/(Total Sample) = 40%
  • Total Mission/Post Staff = (Completed Surveys)/(Total Sample) = 39%

* Please note, the Mission/Post Staff sample response rate is based on the number of unique Missions/Posts, rather than individual respondents (information unavailable), as was calculated for the Regional Office Staff and Business Client surveys. Hence, as shown in Table 2 for the Mission/Post Staff sample, the total sample represents the number of Missions/Posts that the questionnaire was sent to, not the number of potential individual respondents. The total number of completed surveys by unique Missions/Posts is 22, whereas the total number of received questionnaires is 28, because some Missions/Posts had completed multiple questionnaires. Table 3 presents the distribution by Mission/Post by region, also indicating where there were multiple questionnaires received from one Mission/Post (e.g. Five questionnaires were received from Caracas).

Table 3: Surveys Conducted by Mission/Post Geographic Region
North AmericaMiami; Los Angeles; Washington;3 (out of 12 requested)
Latin America and CaribbeanBogotá; Buenos Aires; Lima; Caracas (5 respondents)4 (out of 9)
EuropeBerlin; Moscow; Almat; Munich; Paris
2 respondents); Düsseldorf; Bucharest
7 (out of 14)
Asia PacificBangkok; Seoul; Canberra; Taipei; Sydney (2 respondents)5 (out of 13)
Africa and Middle EastTunis; Abidjan; Alger3 (out of 9)

2.3 Evaluation Limitations

An important limitation of the evaluation was the difficulty surveying RO business clients as well as the fact that only a small number of them were interviewed face-to-face during the eight site visits. Each RO was asked to e-mail the survey link to a representative sample of current clients. The sample cannot be considered to be random, as the Evaluation Team provided guidelines but had no control over the list of business clients selected which was also the case for those interviewed on site in eight regions. The Evaluation Team believes that the clients selected are reasonably representative of the current client base. However, the Evaluation Team did not assess whether the sample that received the survey or the smaller sample that responded is truly representative of the current RO client base.

In addition, the site visits were limited to 8 of 13 of the ROs. Due to time and budget limitations, the Evaluation Team could not visit more distant regions in each province or the Northern part of Canada, where there are a small number of DFAIT clients. Telephone interviews, however, were conducted with the Senior Trade Commissioners of the remaining offices.

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3.0 Key Findings

3.1 Program Governance / Key Management Processes

The issues grouped under the Government and Management theme focus on the clarity of the mandate and vision of the Regional Offices, the planning processes, the adequacy of policies and guidelines, and, communications and coordination, in particular, with partners.

Finding # 1: Lack of Clarity and Awareness of Vision, Mandate, Objectives and Strategies of Regional Offices (ROs)

Overall the evaluation found that, although the overall mandate and objectives for the Regional Offices within DFAIT are well documented and well understood by Senior DFAIT staff, over half of the RO staff do not believe that their specific role is well defined vis-à-vis the missions/posts and other members of the Regional Trade Network.

In addition, the precise role of each RO within each province varies to some extent in accordance with the province, the nature of the clientele and the nature of the regional partners.

The evaluation found that the overall mandate of the Regional Offices is well documented in the business plans. However, the staff survey found that less than half of the respondents (44%) considered the role of the RO, as compared with HQ and the missions/posts, to be clearly defined and understood. Similarly, only slightly more than half of the respondents (51%) considered the role of the RO, as compared with other provincial government or trade associations, to be clearly defined and understood.

ROs expressed concern that the staff at Canadian missions/posts abroad as well as at DFAIT HQ in Ottawa does not always have a clear understanding of the regional office role and mandate. Some concerns were also expressed by some DFAIT HQ staff that the RO mandate is not adequately defined and/or communicated. The comments may be attributable more to a lack of awareness by some of the RO mandate than to a lack of clarity in the mandate itself.

The survey of mission/post staff supported the contention that staff does not all have a clear understanding of the RO role and mandate. Approximately half of the respondents (15 of 26 respondents) indicated that the role and the mandate of the RO is clearly understood by missions/posts; however the remaining respondents (11) indicated that they did not or only somewhat understood the role or mandate of an RO, and suggested that there is room for improvement.

The Evaluation Team found that the role that the RO plays at the regional level varies, depending on the province and the depth of the provincial trade and investment ministry, the level of coordination and collaboration among members of the regional trade networks in the province, and the profile of industry in the region. The RO role is also affected by variables such as the profile of the senior trade commissioner (STC), federal/provincial relations, and the size and complexity of the provincial economy. Finally, it varies depending on the level of formality of the province's regional trade networks. Some provinces have formal regional networks that function well, e.g. Alberta and Nova Scotia, while British Columbia and Newfoundland do not have a functioning trade network, but rather operate in a more informal manner with their partners.

A challenge faced by the RO senior trade commissioners and staff is that there are other much better funded players assisting companies to develop export capability, attract investment, invest abroad, and create commercialization opportunities for ST/innovation:

  • All of the provinces visited during the evaluation have well-developed and well resourced Ministries dealing with exports and investments;
  • There are federally funded regional development agencies and departments in each province that also fund export promotion, investment attraction and RD efforts. Often these agencies have significant funding available for initiatives.
  • DFAIT as a partner in the regional trade networks has limited funding available for initiatives.

As a result the DFAIT Regional Offices have to create a niche for themselves and make sure that they add value to other initiatives in the province.

Currently the important functions played by the DFAIT Regional Offices as seen by DFAIT staff (HQ, ROs, and the missions/posts abroad) are:

  • Directly interfacing with clients in the provinces, linking to all of the regional players engaged in supporting Canadian companies in promoting their exports, as well as attracting inbound and outbound investment;
  • Recruiting companies for missions (on behalf of the provinces or the DFAIT missions/posts), or linking Canadian business clients with missions/posts and business contacts abroad, and conducting follow-ups with clients;
  • Acquiring new clients for the missions abroad;
  • Building awareness of the opportunities for Canadian companies in international business and investment (inbound and outbound);
  • Providing advice and counsel to companies in developing their international business efforts abroad and in attracting investment in Canada;
  • Providing assistance with outreach program development;
  • Providing intelligence to DFAIT HQ and the missions/posts on capabilities and interests of Canadian businesses at the regional and local level; and
  • Providing feedback on the provincial policy perspective with respect to Trade and Investment to DFAIT HQ.

The provincial partners see the regional office role as:

  • Providing a link into the "federal" system. This helps provincial partners solve problems by being able to efficiently connect into the federal departments responsible (e.g. Immigration, Border Services, etc). It also helps to facilitate, to some extent, the development of an overall strategy for international business development by federal and provincial partners (target sectors and countries);
  • Providing contacts and introductions to Trade Commissioners abroad;
  • Providing intelligence on trends in international business generally and in key target markets;
  • Bringing DFAIT staff from the missions/posts abroad to their province to provide more direct information on business opportunities and market conditions in specific countries;
  • For inbound investment, an important function of the RO is to funnel leads from the missions/posts to the provincial agencies so that the latter can try to capitalize on the leads in order to attract investment.

Business clients currently see the regional office role as a direct link to missions/posts and as a source of specific market intelligence and international opportunities. Other comments from the business community included:

  • Business clients believe that an important function of the RO is to work closely with input from the missions/posts to provide business contacts abroad and/or validate potential business contacts and partners abroad before they proceed too far in a relationship;
  • Some businesses also look to ROs to provide independent advice and an assessment of their business plan concerning their international business interests; and
  • Others look to Regional Offices for advice and information on business practices abroad and to overcome border and immigration issues in Canada.

Clients also noted in interviews and focus groups that the RO validates and legitimizes their contacts with the missions/posts, allowing them to receive more expedient and targeted service from the Trade Commissioners abroad. DFAIT support and referrals also provided them with a better entry point to clients abroad with the prestige of the Canadian government backing. Additionally, business clients indicated that ROs accelerate their ability to attain international exposure, contacts, and opportunities that they would otherwise have difficulty obtaining without DFAIT assistance.

As shown in Exhibit 1, the business client survey found that the majority of respondents utilized Regional Offices for leads/contacts in a specific market or geographic area (75%), assessment of a particular market of interest (64%), commercial/business intelligence (62%), and general advice on how to prepare for international markets (62%). Business client respondents reported that they utilized the Regional Offices least for advocacy related services (31%).

Type of Advice/Assistance Received graph

Finding # 2: Level of Awareness of the Role and Mandate of Regional Offices varies at the Regional Level

The Evaluation Team found that awareness of the DFAIT Regional Offices' role and mandate varies at the regional level. Although all of the interviewees at the provincial level (RTN members and private sector clients) were aware of the Regional Offices, some had the impression that the RO was still part of Industry Canada.

In this regard, the evaluation found that:

  • Some companies and provincial and federal partners were not clear about the fact that the ROs have been transferred from IC to DFAIT.
  • Some interviewees believe it is incumbent on the regional STC and senior staff to build and maintain credibility of DFAIT in the region. Good knowledge and involvement in the business community was viewed as an important facet of the STC and senior staff role.
  • There is a need to raise HQ awareness of the regional variations, and how the regions operate (local).

In summary, there is still insufficient awareness and profile of the ROs among provincial partners and client companies.

Finding # 3: Role of the ROs in the New Integrated Approach to Trade, Investment, Science and Technology, and in Global Value Chains is evolving

The TCS recently initiated a new approach for Trade Commissioners, which is based on Trade Commissioners taking an integrated approach to trade, investment and science and technology innovation. At this early stage, the evaluation confirmed that the integrated approach has been slow to evolve.

Further, the interviews indicated a need for awareness building of RO staff on global value chains and how they apply to RO work.

The Evaluation Team reviewed progress in the implementation of the integrated approach, which defines individual Trade Commissioners as having responsibilities for trade, investment, and science and technology/innovation. The evaluation indicated that an integrated approach has been slow to evolve in the ROs. Although the ROs cover trade, investment and science and technology issues, responsibilities tend to be divided among staff members. For example, virtually all of the ROs have one person acting as a focal point for investment. This seems to make sense in the context of inflows of investment leads, as it facilitates connections with the missions/posts abroad on the one hand, and the provincial representatives on the other hand. However, officers are involved in investment related work only occasionally, mainly when there are back-to-back calls to be made to Canadian companies to match investment calls being made outside of Canada.

Staff at ROs generally agreed that there is insufficient activity in terms of aftercare of investors. When an Ambassador overseas visits a major corporate investor, the Canadian regional office completes a call to the Canadian subsidiary company, referred to as back-to-back calls. In addition to handling these back-to-back calls in Canada, as well as providing information for requests by foreign investors, staff is sometimes asked to provide information regarding requests for information to assist companies that aspire to make Canadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA).

The same approach is used with respect to science and technology. In general, ROs have one individual that acts as a focal point on science and technology issues. Officers perceive their role as that of linking to a virtual DFAIT network and arranging training for other officers in science and technology issues.

Given the growing number of emerging science and technology intensive firms, the evaluation found that individual officers must have a good understanding of how science and technology companies operate, the issues facing them and their needs for inflow investment. This requires a good knowledge of the sector, and of the special needs of technology intensive companies. The evaluation indicated a need for increased training for officers, and some consideration of the types of personnel that are best suited to work with these firms.

The evaluation also noted that the National Research Council (NRC), through its Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) Technology Advisors, could be an important DFAIT partner helping to understand and assess technology intensive companies and their needs, as well as a source of new clients for international business development. The partnership with IRAP was found to be inconsistent; the DFAIT ROs in Newfoundland and Québec work closely with IRAP, while other regions, e.g., British Columbia, did not indicate a close relationship with IRAP.

The survey of mission/post staff indicated that they believe that the primary focus of the ROs should be export development, followed by investment and ST. From their perspective, ROs should focus their efforts on supporting companies in their IBD efforts, through a supportive coaching role, and by promoting the opportunities overseas that are identified by the missions/posts. Officers felt that ROs should also support investment activities; however, a number of staff indicated that this should be a secondary role. ROs should conduct investment retention calls and track and report trends in foreign direct investment within their region to HQ and missions/posts.

In relation to ST activities, staff at the missions/posts also believe that ST should be treated as a secondary role for ROs, as NRC/IRAP is better positioned to provide information and services concerning the ST sector. It was also suggested that RO staff lack the knowledge and networks required to be successful, and should therefore focus on assisting companies by finding contacts, assessing overall ST capacity within their respective regions, and assisting with visiting technology partnering companies.

Considering DFAIT's desire to emphasize global value chains, whereby Canadian companies can provide a component of the product or service and be part of a supply chain, the evaluation reviewed the role of global value chains in Regional Offices. In general, this area is not clear. The interviews indicated a lack of awareness of RO staff on this issue and how they apply to the work in Regional Offices. Interviews and focus groups with SMEs also indicated a lack of understanding by some, of the implications of global value chains and the need for a better understanding of the concept to improve their product marketing internationally. This was reinforced in the Québec interviews, in which partners and clients saw a role for the DFAIT RO in developing practical materials for businesses on how to participate in global value chains including lists of companies or an identification of international business opportunities where their products could be utilized in supply chains.

The staff survey suggested that the majority of respondents spend their time supporting clients through researching and providing information on markets or potential contacts and opportunities for trade, investment, joint ventures etc. Furthermore, staff also indicated that they believe that business clients are satisfied with their services (85%), and that they are able to provide the services requested from their business clients (81%).

As indicated in Exhibit 2, the majority of business client survey respondents indicated that Regional Offices help to support Canadian businesses by:

  • Developing their international business capabilities (90%);
  • Developing global value chain opportunities (77%);
  • Commercializing ST products or services (64%); and
  • Helping them attract foreign investment and invest abroad (59%).

Business Clients' Views on ROs graph

Finding # 4: Effectiveness of the Business Planning Process can be strengthened

While the evaluation indicated that Regional Office business plans are closely aligned with current DFAIT priorities, as articulated in the Global Commerce Strategy, there are areas that need further improvement.

A review of the business planning process indicated that although the overall planning cycle works well, there are some areas that could be strengthened. Specifically:

  • The annual plans do not discuss the strategic positioning of the RO and the overall positioning and strategy that the RO wishes to take with respect to the RTN;
  • The annual plans identify RO resources but do not include resource estimates and requirements to undertake the workplan; and
  • Although outreach to clients and working with clients is considered a key objective for the ROs, the annual plans do not identify targets for new clients and the time that should be spent on client-centered activities.

In accordance with DFAIT guidelines, the Regional Offices submit annual business plans prior to the commencement of each fiscal year. The business planning is organized by each RO in accordance with guidelines provided by DFAIT HQ. Over the past few years, the business planning process has been refined to meet the needs of the ROs, and is working reasonably well, based on the interviews conducted by the Evaluation Team, and a review of the business planning documentation.

The review of the business plans of Regional Offices also showed that plans were consistent with priorities outlined in the Global Commerce Strategy.

The International Business Development Program (IBD) planning process for both missions/posts abroad and for the Regional Offices is initiated through issuance of guidelines, which include DFAIT and IBD priorities for the upcoming year. The Regional Offices are asked to incorporate these priorities in their planning process. The evaluation indicated that the ROs integrate the overall DFAIT priorities into their planning.

As indicated earlier, the priorities of regional partners and those of DFAIT may differ. This poses a challenge to the Regional Offices, which are required to reconcile these differences.

During the evaluation, the Evaluation Team observed the following challenges:

  • The focus of the business plans are on initiatives and events. There is limited focus on the strategy and resource requirements for engaging new clients and for maintaining contacts with existing ones.
  • The business plans do not clearly identify the target client group(s), in terms of sectors, numbers and geographic location and the resource capacity and plans to engage the target business clients. This essentially would form an outreach and marketing plan.
  • The Evaluation Team noted that the plans do not identify objectives for trade commissioners (TCs) in terms of the number of new and existing clients that the TCs should cover, as well as the numbers of visits/contacts that should be made to keep abreast of client developments. This could form a basis to link the RO business plan to Performance Management Plans (PMPs). It should be noted that site visits to companies have time and cost implications where the companies are remote from the main city where the RO is located. Setting objectives and estimating resource implications helps to define the resource needs of the RO to accomplish its objectives.
  • The ROs (especially those in the larger provinces) have indicated that they are under-resourced given the size of the population of exporting businesses. For example Ontario and Quebec, with over 30,000 of the 45,000 exporting establishments in Canada have only 45 staff.
  • Regional Offices (especially the larger ones such as Ontario, Québec and British Columbia) indicated that demands from DFAIT Headquarters or unforeseen visits from HQ or the missions/posts abroad (e.g., Heads of missions) and other ad hoc requests occur frequently. These visits detract from the regional office priority workload. The Trade Commissioner Service - Domestic Regional Offices Division (WTD) in Ottawa and the Senior Trade Commissioners in the regions sometimes challenge the need for these visits, or requested tasking, concerned that they utilize valuable officer time.
  • The mission/post questionnaire indicated that concerted planning between the Regional Offices and the missions/posts is limited in scope, and varies for each mission/post. Planning documents are infrequently shared between ROs and missions/posts, and when they are, the process is informal (according to 16 of the 22 mission/post respondents). Respondents indicated that missions/posts do not directly share business or strategic plans with the ROs. It was recommended that interaction could be enhanced for the ROs by using the mission/post business plans to select initiatives in which ROs and missions could collaborate.

Exhibit 3

presents findings from the staff survey concerning the degree to which respondents agree with statements relating to planning within their regional office. Overall 68% of respondents indicated that they have good direction for setting priorities, and 67% indicated that the RO Business Plan provides a good guide for their day-to-day work. Furthermore, (not presented within Exhibit 4) the majority of staff (77%) indicated that they are knowledgeable of their Canadian capabilities in their priority sector(s) in their region, and 75% of respondents also indicated that they are knowledgeable of their sectors.

Planning within ROs graph

As discussed earlier, the business plans do not identify precise time allocations or targets for client and partner associated workloads. As a result, it is difficult to evaluate the extent to which plans compare with actual operations. This finding is supported by the staff survey, in which only 18% of respondents indicated that the Regional Offices have sufficient staff, suggesting that Regional Offices do not have sufficient resources to service new and existing clients.

Finding # 5: Challenges in Delivering on Performance Expectations for Client Interaction

Although the business planning approach provides a useful framework to guide performance, the Evaluation Team found that the process does not set specific enough objectives for client interaction.

Further, client interaction was seen to be impeded by onerous administrative policies and guidelines concerning local travel and hospitality.

With the primary focus of the business planning exercise on initiatives and events, the Evaluation Team observed during the regional visits that the approach that should be taken with respect to clients was not clear. The different capacities of the various provincial governments in terms of working with clients in export development and investment attraction make planning appropriate coverage of existing and potential clients even more difficult. Some regions (e.g. Québec, Ontario, Alberta) have recently begun to set objectives as to the number of companies that officers are expected to actively service in their portfolio, as well as objectives for new client acquisition. However, the evaluation indicates that the approach that officers should take engaging clients (existing and new clients) and how the RO client interaction dovetails with the province are not adequately defined. As a result, the client acquisition and retention strategies at the regional level are generally not explicit.

A second issue that emerged is the generally restrictive administrative guidelines surrounding local provincial and international travel. Interviews with RO managers and staff indicated that the travel guidelines that exist inhibit officer travel locally or provincially for client outcalls. This is because of the need for travel authorizations for trips exceeding 16 kilometers. One region has suggested blanket travel authorities would greatly improve the situation. This is supported by the regional office staff survey, wherein only 32% of respondents indicated that Regional Offices have adequate decision-making authorities to travel to allow officers to do their job effectively.

Officers have also indicated that the ability to travel internationally occasionally to events and conferences, or in concert with trade missions helps them to stay current with business trends. This sentiment was supported by the survey of mission/posts.

The staff survey indicated that only 28% of respondents believed that HQ policies and directives are useful for their work.

Finding # 6: Need to Enhance Coordination/Communications within DFAIT

Regional Offices have indicated that, while the communication with the RO Support Division has been good, there have been problems in receiving prompt and accurate service from the Finance and Human Resources areas. This has impacted on the efficiency of the RO operations.

Some of the Regional Offices have experienced excessive demands for information from DFAIT HQ. This does not centre on one particular area of DFAIT, but refers to the aggregation of all DFAIT HQ divisions. As well, Ontario and Québec have experienced numerous HQ staff requests to visit client companies, which the ROs feel overloads companies with visit requests.

There is limited interaction among Regional Offices at the officer level. In some areas, networks of specialists have formed for sharing information. Greater emphasis on communications and coordination among the ROs would be a useful way to share best practices, and to diffuse knowledge and experience.

Communications and coordination with missions/posts abroad are generally improving as well, although the quality of coordination is variable from both the RO and the mission/post points of view.

Interviews with staff at the ROs indicated that staff is generally satisfied with the communications and support from WTD. However, the RO staff has had more difficulty with the various support areas, such as Finance and Human Resources. With the demise of an arrangement that DFAIT had for administrative support from Industry Canada at the regional level, all administrative services were centralized in Ottawa. This created a bottleneck in processing financial transactions and in human resource actions such as hiring and career planning for future assignments. This was reflected in the staff survey, wherein only 14% of respondents indicated that the Regional Offices receive good administrative support from HQ.

ROs have reported that support in Ottawa has improved but is still subject to slow response, backlogs, and constant changeovers in personnel that have made administrative tasks difficult and time consuming. This has also applied to the policy areas. Some regions indicated that they are not kept well enough informed by DFAIT HQ on changing policy directions and initiatives, and that they often hear of upcoming or new policy changes from their provincial counterparts.

ROs have interaction with the geographic desks from time to time, mainly to coordinate visits by heads of missions/trade commissioners, or companies on trade missions. Generally, coordination and communications in this area has worked reasonably well.

Finally, there is occasional contact with the Investment, Innovation and Sectors Branch. From the survey, it seems that coordination has been more difficult, especially with the Sector Directorates. From the Regional Offices' perspective, responding to their requests for information is time consuming. In addition, they were concerned that sector staff requests for contacts with client companies not only overload these companies with government information requests, but can also duplicate some of the requests from the RO itself.

The above findings were supported by missions/posts survey results, which indicate that the lines of communication between ROs and missions/posts are generally satisfactory, as the majority of respondents (17 of 26 respondents) indicated satisfactory communication. The remainder, approximately one-third of respondents (nine), explicitly indicated unsatisfactory communication.

The most common complaint was that lines of communication are inconsistent, and are generally "structured along personal lines," as one respondent indicated, where "you tend to send inquiries to one particular person that you know." Missions/posts also noted that the quality of service received from Regional Offices varies, depending on the RO and the officer involved. Furthermore, respondents also suggested that the frequency of correspondence between Regional Offices and missions/posts significantly contributes to their level of satisfaction. It was suggested that lines of communication could be improved by:

  • Using virtual teams, where "online discussion groups" or "communities of practice" allow for idea sharing;
  • Posting a matrix of RO activities and priorities that impact or involve missions/posts abroad;
  • Developing individual relationships between missions/posts; and
  • Including the Regional Offices in regular conferences calls and email exchanges.

Mission/post survey results indicated that the level of collaboration between ROs and missions/posts is generally satisfactory, with the majority (19 of 25 respondents) indicating a satisfactory level of collaboration, and only six respondents explicitly indicating unsatisfactory levels of collaboration. It was suggested that the quality of collaboration between the Regional Offices and missions/posts varies depending on the size of the regional office. Missions/posts reported that there are greater problems coordinating and obtaining cooperation when missions/posts priority sectors are inconsistent with the priorities of the Regional Offices.

The majority of respondents indicated that there is room for improvement with respect to collaboration between ROs and missions/posts. For example, one respondent indicated "there is much more opportunity for ROs to have value-added interaction in the client identification and client service process." It was also suggested that joint planning, increased awareness of sectoral priorities, better and more consistent communication, improved relationships, and better distribution of staff, would contribute to improved levels of collaboration between ROs and missions/posts.

RO staff believe that a number of HQ staff, as well as staff from missions/posts, do not consistently involve or notify ROs of meetings within their regions. Additionally, some staff at HQ and missions/posts bypass ROs and fail to inform ROs of their contacts with businesses in their communities.

Missions/posts reported that there are no formal protocols for coordinating or advising ROs when they communicate with either provincial government entities or businesses in the RO's province. While not required in cases where informal communications and contacts appear to work, there are instances where the ROs are bypassed by HQ and mission/post staff, and are not aware of visits or other interactions with provincial partners and with companies. This comment is supported by the mission/post questionnaire, wherein a number of staff indicated that they are unaware of the appropriate protocols when communicating with other entities.

Exhibit 4

Summarizes the findings from the staff survey in relation to the quality of communications between the Regional Offices and various partners, missions/posts, and HQ. The majority of respondents indicated average or above average communications between the Regional Offices and various organizations they dealt with.

Quality of Communications graph

Exhibit 5

Summarizes the findings from the staff survey in relation to the degree of collaboration between Regional Offices and various partners, Posts, and HQ. The majority of respondents indicated moderate to frequent collaboration between Regional Offices and various organizations.

Survey respondents indicated that the least collaboration occurs with missions/posts in the Middle East (23%) and in Africa (11%).

Level of Collaboration graph

3.2 Relevance

The following section discusses the relevance of the Regional Offices in relation to their client needs, addressing such information as the type of clients that ROs target, the relevance of the RO services to its clients, and the extent to which the Regional Offices are considered to have adequate sectoral expertise.

Finding # 7: Need for Identification of Target Clients

The Evaluation found that the ROs do not have comprehensive lists or inventories of Canadian companies in various priority sectors. As well, ROs have not developed systematic approaches for assessing the potential for client acquisition and for then targeting these clients.

Regional Office staff noted that they deal with a range of clients. Key clients include business clients who require assistance with export development, developing joint ventures and alliances, and sometimes attracting venture capital. Partners such as municipalities and provinces that are trying to attract investment to their regions are also important as intermediaries with clients. Clients are generally companies that are already established and are ready to export. The majority of business client survey respondents were represented by Canadian businesses/organizations (71%), followed by non-profit organizations (7%), economic development agencies (6%), and associations (including regional, trade, and industry) (4%). Business clients also included research institutions and education institutions (3% respectively), and government, financial institutions, and international businesses/companies (2% respectively).

Larger clients generally approach ROs infrequently and primarily for trouble shooting or specific market and contact information on potential new areas that they are trying to penetrate.

Small and medium sized businesses tend to be the more frequent clients of Regional Offices. The businesses range from very small innovative companies that are dependent on foreign markets for their sales to medium-sized businesses that are already established internationally but wish to expand or diversify. In both cases, RO services can range from the provision of contacts at the Canadian High Commissions or Embassies and Consulates abroad, to providing assistance in developing a coherent and feasible international marketing plan.

Regional Offices report that clients are not only looking for export opportunities, but also are often seeking partnerships, and/or alliances or joint ventures, especially in the case of technology intensive companies. Many of the client firms are small, i.e., less than 5-10 employees, but many have significant experience in international business.

The following Exhibit presents export activities in which clients of Regional Offices are involved, as indicated by the business client survey. A higher percentage of business client respondents indicated that they spend their time predominantly exporting to countries other than the United States (67%), but exporting to the United States (59%) was also dominant. Business client respondents also indicated that they spend their time looking for joint venture or licensing opportunities with joint partners (47%), seeking domestic investment (43%), seeking investment internationally (36%), and engaging in international partnerships in science and technology and technology/innovation activities (34%) (Exhibit 6).

Organizational Activities graph

It should be noted that the number of potential target clients varies considerably among provinces. Table 4 below provides an overview of the total number of exporters by province. The statistical accounts are by establishment. Larger companies generally have more than one establishment; however, for SMEs the establishment count should be approximately the same as the number of companies.

Table 4: Numbers of Exporter Establishments by Province
Province of Residence2005
Newfoundland Labrador256
Prince Edward Island148
Nova Scotia885
New Brunswick770
Québec10,145
Ontario20,523
Manitoba1,509
Saskatchewan915
Alberta3,895
British Columbia16,691
Yukon/Northwest TerritoriesX
NunavutX
Canada45,737
X indicated confidential data; 1 NWT, YT, and NU are combined with BC AB.

Derived from Statistics Canada (2005). A Profile of Canadian Exporters 1993-2005.

Although Regional Offices have their own lists of clients interested in international business, the evaluation found that there are no complete inventories of the Canadian companies in their sectors and regions. In part, this is because of the lack of resources and time to maintain an inventory of all of the potential companies in any one sector, and partly because of the constantly changing sector dynamics where companies are established. The situation varies by province. In Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia the numbers of companies in the respective provinces makes it difficult to compile a complete inventory of businesses in a particular sector. In provinces with a smaller number of business establishments, e.g. PEI, Manitoba and Newfoundland, the number of companies per sector are limited and generally well known to Trade Commissioners in the RO. The staff survey indicated that the majority of clients served by Regional Offices operate in the aerospace defense sector (79%), closely followed by the information communications technology (78%), bio-industries (77%), building products and construction (76%), and environmental sectors (76%) (Exhibit 7).

Sectors Served by ROs graph

The evaluation found that not all of the ROs have developed a coherent marketing approach for client acquisition. This would include maintaining an inventory of good prospects, and developing a plan for targeting prospective clients through either personal visits by Trade Commissioners or Special events.

Finding # 8: Lack of Coherent Client Acquisition Approach

The evaluation noted that ROs lack a coherent approach for client acquisition. As a result, each officer may approach client acquisition in different ways. The evaluation results suggest that the business clients are largely acquired as a result of follow-ups on contacts made at trade events, conferences, etc., closely followed by client acquisition via cold calls, and referrals made by partners.

The Evaluation Team noted that new clients are acquired in a variety of ways. However, it was also noted that ROs lack a step-by-step business process or approach for client acquisition. As a result, each officer may approach client acquisition in different ways, without following defined good practices for client acquisition and management of meetings with companies located throughout their region. (For example, are telephone contacts acceptable versus face-to-face meetings? Can ROs host events to meet targeted clients to avoid expensive and time-consuming travel within the regions?)

The staff survey results suggest that business clients are largely acquired as a result of follow-ups on contacts made at trade events, conferences, etc., closely followed by client acquisition via cold calls, and referrals made by partners. (Exhibit 8).

Business Client Acquisition graph

Furthermore, staff survey results also suggested that the majority of respondents (60%) indicated that they have acquired at least ten business clients within the previous twelve months (Exhibit 9).

Number of Clients Acquired by ROs graph

Finding # 9: Clients Very Satisfied with Services from ROs

The evaluation indicated that current business clients are satisfied with the services received from regional office staff. Interviewees in all six provinces visited were adamant about the need for a DFAIT regional office to assist them in developing connections to missions/posts abroad and to obtain direct input and advice on their international business development plans.

The following client needs were identified based on the interviews and surveys of business clients, as well as from interviews with RO staff. The needs of businesses that access the Regional Offices are usually with respect to:

  • Obtaining a better understanding of a foreign market they may wish to target;
  • Obtaining contacts in the mission/post in a specific country to assist with locating business contacts, and agents, or to respond to specific questions;
  • Learning of events and opportunities that may be useful for them in their marketing;
  • General advice on their marketing plans;
  • Organizing inbound missions and missions/events abroad;
  • Obtaining market intelligence and international opportunities; and
  • Acquiring advice and assistance with respect to customs, border issues, and immigration issues (into the US or into Canada), specific protocols, and business practices.

Exhibit 10

Presents the level of importance given by business client respondents to a number of services provided by TCS Regional Offices. As indicated, the majority of respondents (77%) placed a high level of importance on Regional Offices providing leads/contacts in a specific market or geographic area, commercial/business intelligence (68%), assessment of a particular market of interest (67%), and also matchmaking with a foreign company/organization (56%).

Importance of Services Provided by ROs graph

Business client respondents were also given the opportunity to identify other services, not covered in the standard responses above. The following responses were provided:

  • Vetting foreign business partners
  • Helping to understand foreign government purchasing: Who are the decision-makers, criteria, timeframes, etc.
  • Help in contacting businesses abroad.
  • Assistance in identifying trade commissioners who can be of assistance
  • Participation in trade missions and events that facilitate networking
  • Connecting Canadians with local partners and facilitating connections with local networks
  • Sponsoring events and associations that are working to build networks and relationships.

Overall, the business clients surveyed and interviewed for this evaluation are generally happy with the service provided by Regional Offices. In most cases, respondents had a close relationship with particular officers in the regional office, from whom they received frequent communications about upcoming events, or opportunities.

Exhibit 11

Presents the level of satisfaction with the TCS Regional Offices, as indicated by business client survey respondents. As shown, the majority (92%) of respondents indicated that they were very satisfied with their experience with the Regional Offices. Only 2% of the respondents indicated that they were not satisfied at all.

Level of Satisfaction with ROs graph

The Evaluation Team noted that ROs generally work closely with a small number of firms that need their help and that form good relationships with the RO. Therefore, as one would expect, at the margin, only a small percentage of the Canadian SME exporting community works closely with the RO at any point in time. A much larger percentage may have some contact periodically based on need.

As the provincial governments continue to expand their services to small businesses in trade development, it is increasingly important to define the precise role of the ROs, the services they provide and how they can provide incremental services to those provided by the provinces and other regional partners.

A large majority (93%) of business client respondents suggested that their business/organization benefited as a result of the services received from Regional Offices, and that Regional Offices help to support Canadian businesses develop their international business capabilities (88% of respondents).

Areas of concern raised by clients relate to the lack of adequate service in geographic areas such as the Middle East. Companies indicated that responses from the Middle East Canadian missions/posts have been slow or not completely satisfactory. Overall, clients suggested that they were satisfied with the responsiveness of the Trade Commissioners at the Regional Offices.

In all of the six provinces visited, non-DFAIT interviewees were adamant that the ROs are providing an essential link to missions/posts abroad - a link that would be much more difficult to achieve without a local office. Some provinces (Alberta, Québec, Ontario and BC) have some representation abroad, typically resident in the Canadian missions abroad. The other provinces have limited or no overseas representation and are therefore dependent on DFAIT to provide contacts and market information for businesses that wish to expand their export businesses, or to attract investment.

Some clients stressed that RO Trade Commissioners should know local firms and their business strengths and weaknesses as well as the provincial environment as an important facet of the job.

In addition to the online survey to businesses, focus groups and telephone interviews were conducted with approximately 20 clients (in five provinces). Of the twenty firms interviewed, 18 expressed very positive opinions about the RO services provided. Two were less positive, but indicated that they had not made much effort to avail themselves of services provided by the ROs. The firms interviewed were generally SMEs. Firms ranged in size from 1 or 2 employees to over 500 employees. Most firms were less than 20 employees, and were in high technology sectors.

Finding # 10: DFAIT Mission/Post, HQ Staff and Regional Partner Satisfaction with Regional Offices varies

The evaluation concluded that provincial and federal partners are highly satisfied with the Regional Offices. DFAIT staff at the missions was generally satisfied, however, they indicated that the quality of service varies with the individual Regional Offices, and with individual staff.

The level of satisfaction with Regional Offices was also assessed from the perspectives of:

  • Headquarters staff in Ottawa;
  • Missions/posts outside of Canada;
  • Regional Trade Network Partners.

Interviews at DFAIT HQ were completed with over 20 staff members, including senior management. Interview responses came from line management of the Regional Offices and other divisions in the Global Operations Branch, and the Sectors, Investment and Innovation Branch. The comments from headquarters have to be viewed from the perspective of the particular branch in question.

Except in the case of specific events, the operational divisions have minimal contact with the Regional Offices, and with the exception of the U.S. geographic division, are most concerned that the regional office maintains a flow of clients to missions/posts abroad. Concerns raised by the geographic divisions relate to a perceived lack of proactivity on the part of ROs in terms of generating new clients and unevenness in the quality of responses to requests from the missions/posts.

Management and staff in the Global Operations Branch are highly supportive of the work of the ROs. The overall view is that the ROs play a key role for the department. There is a belief that there are a number of areas where staffing and approaches have to be improved. These included increased levels of rotational staff for the ROs to provide more international business exposure, and increased adoption of an integrated approach to trade, investment and ST.

Staff in the Sectors, Investment and Innovation Branch were the least satisfied with the Regional Offices. Concerns raised were as follows:

  • The Branch believes that ROs should work more closely with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC);
  • There is a perception that ROs have not, as yet, shifted to an integrated trade approach;
  • Innovation Division staff indicated that they have experienced resistance from WTD and the Regional Offices in terms of adopting new business approaches proposed by them. The Innovation division raised some concerns as well about insufficient coordination between ROs and NRC IRAP;
  • Sector divisions indicated that there is tension between sectors divisions and WTD and Regional Offices. Concerns raised relate to communications with the ROs, which must first be routed through headquarters;
  • The investment divisions were concerned about insufficient dedicated investment focal points in ROs to handle investment inquiries. They believed that without a focal point it was difficult to determine who should receive investment leads;
  • Concern was raised about overlapping responsibilities in investment between ROs and the provinces requiring some clarification, and regarding the value added by the ROs not being adequately demonstrated in comparison to the provinces and other federal agencies;
  • Some concern was expressed that DFAIT has not adequately branded itself nationally as a regional office network, and that, as a result, awareness and knowledge of the RO value added is not well understood.

The survey of Trade Commissioners at Canadian missions/posts abroad (26 respondents) indicated a mixed level of satisfaction with the services provided by ROs. At least eleven respondents indicated that they were satisfied with their overall experience with ROs, while the remaining 15 respondents had mixed responses. A large majority of respondents mentioned having varied experiences with the ROs and attributed this to varying levels of interest and capabilities of individual officers, the level of activity and staffing in the office, and the extent to which the priorities of the mission/post and the RO coincide. A few respondents suggested that levels of satisfaction with Regional Offices have significantly increased over the last few years. As one respondent indicated, "There was one point in time, about four years ago, when I would very rarely have even bothered to pose a request to a regional office… In the last few years, I think we have seen better management/leadership into these offices - it has made a real difference in terms of the timeliness and quality of the assistance received." Although the level of satisfaction with Regional Offices was generally sufficient, ranging from very good to mediocre, comments provided by the respondents indicated that there is definite room for improvement concerning consistency, timeliness, and proactivity.

Interviews were completed with regional trade network partners in the six regions that were visited by the Evaluation Team. In all, forty-five partner agencies and organizations were interviewed. In the context of this evaluation, partners included:

  • Federal partners such as ACOA, FedNor, DEC (Québec), Western Economic Diversification;
  • Provincial partners such as provincial government departments and agencies;
  • Business Associations;
  • Business advisory groups or special interest groups; and
  • Regional or municipal economic development organizations.

All of the various organizations interviewed for the evaluation were positive about the services provided by the Regional Offices. All viewed the ROs as a link to missions/posts abroad and to the rest of the federal system; and an indispensable component of the provincial trade development and investment attraction network. In Alberta, the DFAIT RO has provided continuity in a situation where there has been provincial reorganization of trade and investment departments and where there has been a high level of personnel turnover.

Staff in provincial ministries are of the opinion that DFAIT has insufficient resources to fully carry out its mandate in the provinces and to implement events, and although DFAIT has some funding, the Department is reliant on funding from others. The Alberta partners believe that, given the recent high growth rates in Western Canada, DFAIT does not have the resources to handle the volume of activity. Concerns were also raised in the interviews in BC, Alberta and British Columbia about the capacity of ROs, as well as missions/posts, in the area of science and technology.

Ontario MEDT officials indicated that they believe that the DFAIT RO does not have enough delegated authority to make all of the decisions necessary regarding participation in events. As a result they are sometimes limited in terms of participation in events. British Columbia interviewees also noted that the RO could have a higher profile in the community. In addition, the office appears to be under resourced, and hence cannot play a role in all of the major events in the province.

Québec partners interviewed suggested that, because the officers in the ROs cannot travel abroad, they are regarded as less knowledgeable of the international business development environment. This hurts their credibility with clients. Both Québec and Ontario noted that, since the provinces lead the missions abroad, they are perceived as having leadership in trade development. It is more difficult, as a result, for DFAIT to retain a high profile and credibility.

Finding # 11: Challenges in providing Regional and Sectoral Coverage of Clients

Regional coverage within the provinces was found to be insufficient in the larger provinces (Ontario, Québec, and BC). However, the sectoral coverage of clients was found to be satisfactory.

Regional office staff and provincial partners indicated that adequate regional coverage is difficult to achieve, especially in the provinces of Québec, British Columbia and Ontario. The reasons cited are as follows:

  • The limited number of provincial offices (e.g. Ontario, BC have only one office);
  • The excessive travel distances required to visit many clients;
  • The need to obtain travel authorities for trips over 16 kilometers, which acts as a barrier to travel on a short-term basis.

A number of the ROs indicated that they try to arrange regional travel as a periodic "swing" through the province for events with local businesses.

Interviewees from northern Ontario indicated that they are unhappy with the level of service provided from the Ontario regional office. This situation may improve with the introduction of satellite offices, as the RO is currently hard pressed to service the city of Toronto and the surrounding area, let alone the entire province. Similar concerns were raised in Newfoundland, and the NWT and Nunavut, where more remote locations in the province are difficult to service.

In terms of sectoral coverage, all of the regions visited indicated that they review their priority sectors annually and in light of the sectoral priorities advanced in the Business Planning Guidelines from DFAIT HQ. Some regions have a retreat prior to the fiscal year during which time they re-examine and possibly redefine their priority sectors.

Regions sometimes have difficulty correlating their priorities with priorities of the various missions/posts. The extent to which the ROs coordinate their priorities with the provinces varies. Most are knowledgeable of the provincial priorities and take them into account, in addition to other factors. It should be noted that RO Trade Commissioner outreach programs focus only on priority sectors.

All Regional Offices have devised a procedure for dealing with requests in non-priority sectors where they have made arrangements to stream general inquiries to a provincial or federal business centre, which then provides general responses on trade-related questions. Specific inquiries that justify DFAIT RO involvement are passed to the local DFAIT office for action. These requests are not given the same level of priority that the priority-sector requests would be given. Generally this means that trade commissioners do not schedule contacts or visits, or arrange sectoral events for non-priority sectors.

DFAIT has gone through a gradual transformation in which it has taken over responsibility for the business sectors from Industry Canada. This means that Industry Canada has a limited number of sector specialists, especially in the regions. At DFAIT HQ in Ottawa, the Innovation, Investment and Sector Branch have functional responsibilities for providing technical expertise in these areas to support DFAIT HQ and presumably the Regional Offices.

From a regional perspective, the responses of partners and client businesses indicated that what they value in the Trade Commissioners is a good knowledge of the businesses in the sector, their strengths and weaknesses, and their aspirations in terms of international business development. In all cases, the provinces have more extensive sectoral analysis capacity than the Trade Commissioners do, and the capacity is focused on the sectors of importance to each province. For example, Alberta has strong sectoral analysis capacity in oil and gas and agriculture, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia has strength in fish products, and ocean industries, etc.

Thus far, RO trade commissioners interviewed are of the opinion that the Ottawa sector divisions have not been able to add much value to the services provided by the Regional Offices, because they are relatively new to DFAIT and are still familiarizing themselves with the sectors. Meanwhile, the Regional Offices have complained that the sector specialists in Ottawa have placed additional demands on them for information, and that they have also requested visits to companies as part of their familiarization process. The ROs believe that this places an excessive demand on Canadian companies with no apparent value added.

Provincial representatives and client companies greatly value continuity of trade commissioners and the fact that they know the companies in the sectors covered. The evaluation found that an in-depth technical understanding of sectors is not required by ROs since many of the provinces have strong sectoral analysis capacity themselves and clients are more interested in connections than sectoral expertise.

3.3 Effectiveness

Finding # 12: Partnerships

The evaluation found that Regional Offices rely on partnerships (either formal or informal) with other federal agencies and with provincial organizations varying from well-defined formal arrangements to highly informal networks for information sharing. The evaluation indicated that RTNs provide essential leverage of DFAIT resources, both financial and non-financial. RTN partners were often seen as the main source of funds for clients, with DFAIT providing the knowledge and expertise.

Partnerships with other federal and provincial agencies were seen as an important aspect of the work of the Regional Offices. In all provinces, there are numerous players involved in trade development, investment development and science and technology/innovation. Nova Scotia provides a good example of the proliferation of federal, provincial, and sometimes municipal agencies that have some involvement with trade, investment and science and technology/innovation. In Nova Scotia, Trade Team Nova Scotia comprises 21 member agencies, all of which have some involvement in trade investment and innovation. The province estimates that there are approximately 900 exporting firms in Nova Scotia.

The RTN in Nova Scotia is somewhat unusual because of its formal structure and the existence of a paid Secretariat, which ensures that schedules and events are adhered to, and which assures communications are carried out systematically.

The Regional Offices visited in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were found to be well integrated into the regional trade networks. In Newfoundland, the regional office has worked closely with the Ocean Industries Association and the National Research Council to support a cluster initiative linking the ocean industries to a similar cluster in San Diego. An RO Trade Commissioner in Newfoundland has been instrumental in making this connection work.

Ontario, through the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MEDT), has an extensive regional network and close associations with the province's exporters. The International Trade Branch of MEDT in Toronto is well staffed and also deals with over 1,000 export clients at any one time. MEDT organizes overseas trade missions for companies and also receives trade and investment missions from abroad, often with DFAIT assistance. MEDT also has its own growing representation abroad. The roles of DFAIT and MEDT are compatible, but could potentially overlap if not well coordinated.

By way of contrast, provinces such as British Columbia and Newfoundland do not have formal networks in place, but rather rely on informal communications and linkages with their partners. Other provinces have partnerships with varying degrees of formality attached to them. The Alberta regional office has a formal MOU with the province and a formal Regional Trade Network as well. Ontario relies on the Canada Ontario Export Forum as a trade network. This organization acts as a communications mechanism.

The DFAIT partners noted the following points:

  • As mentioned previously, almost without exception, the provincial trade ministries have extensive regional office networks, larger staff complements than DFAIT, and have a greater reach to the business community than DFAIT has.
  • The federal partners, especially the regional development agencies, have significant budgets from which to fund trade development missions and events.

As a result:

  • The partners provide the funding necessary for much of the trade development events.
  • The provinces can be an important source of clients through referrals.

However:

  • There is a perception that DFAIT is the player with the least resources when compared to provincial and federal development agencies. In a competitive field where there are many sources of assistance for trade, innovation and investment attraction, clients can bypass DFAIT if the provincial or federal development agencies provide similar services.
  • There is a danger of "client overload." Many clients have limited time and resources available to spend with public-sector officials, unless they see value added in terms of funding or high-level advice. The ROs are sensitive about overloading clients with trade officer visits; concerned that this may cause resentment by the companies that government officials are taking too much of their time. Therefore, they often try to limit the number of visits made to clients, and will often join with provincial partners in visiting business clients so as to avoid duplication of effort.

There is a risk that clients will see DFAIT as duplicating services that can be provided by other agencies (federal or provincial), especially since ministries/agencies such Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) have significant financial resources. Therefore, the role of DFAIT to add value to the RTN partners services is fundamental.

At present, the comparative advantage of DFAIT ROs vs. other partners is as follows:

  • In most cases, DFAIT is the partner with a direct link to the missions/posts;
  • DFAIT is seen as a source of international trends and intelligence on foreign markets; and
  • The provinces, through their trade and investment agencies, have a large provincial regional network of close contact with many provincial businesses and are consequently able to provide DFAIT with contacts and clients interested in initiating or expanding their international business.

The evaluation indicated that only the Prairie and Northern Region (PNR) has struck a formal MOU with the provinces in that region (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). The other provinces generally operate on an informal basis. Nova Scotia has a formal structure for the RTN, but still does not have an MOU.

The Evaluation Team noted that, with the exception of Newfoundland, DFAIT has not arranged partnership agreements with NRC IRAP. Given IRAP's extensive field network and database of over 12,000 clients, a closer relationship with IRAP is worth exploring.

The fact that provincial governments have extensive trade and investment organizations makes it challenging for DFAIT to gain agreement on a role for the ROs that maximizes their value added and avoid duplication and competition with the provinces.

The MOU in place in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, assists in the coordination of services. The BC Ministry of Economic Development indicated that a protocol that identifies who does what would be useful, as well as the level of service that should be provided. BC indicated that, in the past, DFAIT had organized an internal trade fair for all partners in the RTN to build awareness of the partners.

Finding # 13: Clarification needed for Role of TRIO System in Client Information and Performance Measurement

The Evaluation Team found that TRIO has been used for multiple purposes, although in reality it was intended as a client relationship management tool. This has resulted in some confusion around TRIO's role. As a result, Trade Commissioners at the ROs feel that a part of what they are doing is not measured, or not measured accurately and are not sure of how their work is being assessed.

Available performance information at this time can be derived from two sources: the TRIO system, which is the current system used by DFAIT to capture client information and to record client-related transactions, and quarterly and annual reports and success stories provided by the ROs. As will be discussed in this section, the use of TRIO as a performance management system has met with considerable concerns by RO staff, although its use as a customer relations management system has been well received. One of the major concerns raised by the ROs was that TRIO was not considered as being completely suited to the RO environment.

TRIO has been in operation in the department for nearly four years. It was first implemented in the DFAIT missions/posts in 2004, and in the Regional Offices in late 2006. TRIO was implemented primarily to manage client relationships - specifically to capture information about services, requests for core services, events, and interactions. It is also used to inventory historical information about DFAIT interactions with clients in order to provide a historical record of these requests.

TRIO is used in the department for multiple functions:

  • TRIO is used as a statistical tool to compile support requests received through e-mail. The information is also used to track the solutions applied to help identify training needs or develop guidelines for recurring problems.
  • TRIO is used as a reporting tool, allowing users to run simple query reports. As well, TRIO allows searches on a variety of fields, such as organizations, clients, etc.
  • TRIO has also been used to produce reports on performance. Information can be broken down by office, region, period, core services, etc.
  • Managers use TRIO to analyze trends, measure performance and review office trends in performance. This is being done mostly for the missions/posts at present, as Regional Offices are new to the use of TRIO and the data has not been entered consistently across the different Regional Offices. However, a Regional Office Performance Measurement Working Group has been set up to address this issue.

Strengths Weaknesses:

  • TRIO is compatible with systems such as Outlook and BI Intelligence. TRIO's limit in reporting and printing function has been compensated by the IBD Dashboard and the BI intelligence system of the department. Information from TRIO is transferred to Business Intelligence (BI) and the DFAIT performance dashboard on a weekly basis. These systems generate reports using the TRIO database. The BI system provides more structured reports and can accommodate complex queries. This transfer of information is made automatically and TRIO functions well.
  • The system allows viewing of any service request set up anywhere in the world in the system. This can facilitate team coordination and faster retrieval of information. It can also improve management of service requests. However, officers cannot access other Regional Offices/Trade Commissioner's local contacts unless the officer responsible for the service request has granted the specific right to them.
  • A service request can be reassigned to another Trade Commissioner in another office. However, once a service request has been transferred, it becomes the new office's property and cannot be included in the previous office's statistics. RO staff believe that this creates a problem in performance measurement and attribution to the ROs for the work they do. To circumvent this difficulty, officers are allowed to close the original service request so that their office can receive the credit for it and open a new request for reassignment. This practice might lead to double counting, however, depending on how performance is calculated.

The following were identified as outstanding issues with TRIO, based on discussions with DFAIT staff at HQ:

TRIO has been used for multiple purposes, although in reality it was intended as a client relationship management tool. This has resulted in some confusion around TRIO's role. TRIO is perceived as a time management tool for some and a performance measurement tool for others. This finding is supported by the staff survey; only 40% of respondents agreed that TRIO assists with planning client follow-up, and only 21% of respondents agreed that TRIO assists RO staff in planning their work.

Consistent with these findings, trade commissioners at the ROs feel that a large part of what they are doing is not measured, or not measured accurately. As well, trade commissioners noted inconsistencies in what is entered in TRIO, with some trade commissioners believing that items such as activities with partners and/or preparation time for events are not adequately counted.

Some officers were concerned that when they transfer a transaction or lead to a mission/post, they may not receive proper credit for what they accomplished and that the credit for results may end up with the mission/post. They also felt that the emphasis on performance measurement is high and that, as a result, they would not be considered as performing as well as others if they did not receive the credit for some of their work.

The time to visit clients varied considerably, depending on the location of the RO and the location of the client. Officers noted that, since client interactions do not take travel time into account, and that primarily counts are considered, the TRIO system may have the perverse effect of discouraging client visits in distant locations.

Officers were of the opinion that TRIO does not count CISP work - which also takes a portion of the time of the RO. This was demonstrated by the staff survey findings, in which the majority of respondents (93%) indicated that they spent up to 49% of their time managing client applications to ERI and CISP.

Work with partners is not necessarily accounted for in TRIO from a performance management perspective. This was demonstrated by the staff survey findings, in which the majority of respondents (96%) indicated that they spend up to 49% of their time coordinating and working with partners.

Other issues that were raised:

  • Some officers believe that TRIO is a considerable administrative burden. Opinions varied, and officers in the larger ROs such as Ontario reported considerable time requirements to enter data into TRIO. Officers noted that the time required and efficiency of input improves with training and experience. Findings from the staff survey suggest that RO staff spend the majority of their time performing administrative tasks, including TRIO, providing support to clients, and organizing or attending conferences, trade events, and incoming missions;
  • Officers that use TRIO noted that it provides a useful system for tracking client interactions. The Québec RO noted that it provides a good way of monitoring progress that companies are making in their export markets;
  • Officers noted, however, that, although TRIO provides a good record of clients and interactions, it does not effectively measure progress of clients in terms of export success.

One office noted the importance of integrating the business plans, the personal performance management plans with the performance measures included in TRIO. The Evaluation Team noted that, although senior managers place emphasis on visiting clients as a priority, the RO business plans do not explicitly outline the strategy, resource requirements and targets for client visits.

Similarly, working with partners and working on events are areas that officers do not believe receive proper credit. Some felt that time requirements for these activities were important performance factors that should also be part of the PMPs.

3.4 Efficiency

Finding # 14: Challenges Determining Profile of RO Workload

The evaluation concluded from the interviews conducted that it is difficult to determine how much time trade commissioners in the ROs devote to individual task areas since the Department does not require its officers to track time spent on various activities. The results of the employee survey showed that rough estimates were that about 40% of trade commissioner time was devoted to serving clients. The rest of the time was devoted to working with partners, administration, and responding to queries from the posts and HQ.

The evaluation also concluded that short-term pressures and excessive administrative workload and internal DFAIT requirements detract from the RO staff ability to spend more time servicing new and existing clients.

Two different approaches were taken to establish an estimate of the RO workloads. One approach was to discuss the workloads in focus group and interview settings. The second approach was based on a survey of staff.

The regional office staff relies on the TRIO system to track the numbers of transactions with clients and partners. There is currently no system for estimating actual workloads.

Discussions with Trade Commissioners and with RO managers indicated that there are difficulties in precisely identifying the allocation of officers' time to different tasks. The time allocation estimate below must be seen as a range estimate.

There was general agreement that the key tasks carried out by the ROs include:

  • Working with clients, including:
    • Telephone contacts with clients
    • Client visits
    • Research done on behalf of clients
    • Recruitment of business clients for events locally and for trade missions abroad (generally on behalf of partner agencies)
    • Coordinating and working with partners (provincial government and associations).
    • This can include meetings and discussions, as well as time spent helping to organize events and event logistics.
  • Keeping up to date with sectors;
  • Responding to requests from DFAIT missions/posts and HQ for information; and
  • Administration - TRIO, and other administrative activities.

The focus groups and interviews indicated the following rough estimates of how Trade Commissioners spend their time:

  • 20-40% of their time is devoted to client contacts, including recruiting for missions and events;
  • 25% is devoted to working with partners;
  • 15% is devoted to administration (including TRIO input);
  • 20-30% can be devoted to keeping up with the sectors. (Some officers in Québec indicated that it can take up to 50% of their time initially to learn the sector.)

Of note, the amount of time devoted to working with business clients is estimated to be in the range of 20-40%. This means that a significant amount of time is devoted to working with partners, keeping up with the sectors, and administration.

During interviews, officers noted that it is difficult to increase the number of face-to-face meetings with clients for the following reasons:

  • There are a limited number of clients either requesting or needing direct assistance. This is partly attributable to the fact that there are only a limited number of exporters (see Table 4), and the provinces now provide much of the initial contacts for firms to bring them up to the export-ready stage;
  • Many firms already are established in their markets and are in need of assistance only at certain points in time, e.g., when they are encountering barriers, wish to enter a new market, or are facing other market challenges that require special assistance. Exporters need access to the missions/posts and business contacts when they are undertaking marketing calls in a specific market:
  • RO Trade Commissioners find that budgets, bureaucracy and the performance measurement system is designed to reward the number of contacts with companies rather than time taken to travel to far off locations to visit companies; and
  • ROs perceive that many small companies are overloaded with visits by governments at all levels which wish to help them develop their capacities and to increase exports. Trade Commissioners are sometimes reluctant to overload companies with extra time for visits, and as a result tend to play a more reactive role.

Exhibit 12

Presents the findings from the regional office staff survey concerning how regional office staff spends their time on average. The findings indicate that staff spends the majority of their time supporting business clients and performing administrative work, as 44% and 33% of staff indicated that they spend more than 25% of their time performing these activities. It should be noted that the staff survey respondents are comprised of Deputy Directors, Senior Trade Commissioners, Trade Commissioners, Trade Commissioner Assistants, and Administrative Assistants.

Finding # 15: Basis for Resource Allocation is unclear

The Evaluation Team reviewed the allocation of resources to the Regional Offices in terms of human resources in particular. The methodology used to allocate resources was not clear, and did not appear to relate to the potential in terms of international business development at the regional level. At the time of the evaluation, there were no resourcing standards for the number of officers allocated to Regional Offices in relation to the number of active clients, numbers of SMEs, number of active exporters, and/or the resources required to carry out the business plan in the region.

The evaluation found that the linkage between resource allocation and RO business plans was not clear. A methodology for resource allocation related to service delivery requirements, client demand, local market conditions and/or business planning priorities was not clear or defined in the review of business plans and other materials.

Work Profile of RO Staff graph

Finding # 16: Info Required to Determine Relationship between Costs and Results

A review of the human resource allocation and the funds available to run the regional office network indicated that regional office budgets are quite limited for their mandate. The analysis indicated that the Maritime Provinces are much better funded than Central, Western Canada, or British Columbia. It appears that from a resource costing perspective, Ontario, Québec and British Columbia are under funded. However, only limited information was available and therefore a full analysis could not be conducted.

The relationship between costs and results can only be analyzed if there is appropriate output and outcome information.

Overall, Regional Office staff across Canada number approximately 109, including Trade Commissioner Assistants and Managers. The total cost of the RO Network was estimated at approximately $11.5 million by the Evaluation Team, based on the average salary for Trade Commissioners at the Commercial Officer (CO)/Foreign Service (FS) levels.

There are a number of ways that costs can be assessed:

  • Average costs per exporting firm (for all exporting firms);
  • Average cost per client served/per year; and
  • Costs per transaction, by type of transaction.

If analyzed on the basis of the number of exporter establishments, the costs would be as follows:

Table 5
Regional officeEstimated Costs of RO ($K)# of Exporter EstablishmentsExport Value ($M)(2005)RO Cost per Exporter
NFL (5)$500256$3,230$1,953
PEI (4)$400148$590$2,702
NS (8)$800885$4,560$903
NB (8)$800770$10,405$1,038
QC (29)$2,90010,145$68,923$ 285
ON (24)$2,40020,523$177,715$118
MB (9)$9001,509$8,926$596
SK (7)$700915$6,525$765
Alta, NWT, Nun (17)$1,7003,895$85,147$436
BC (17)$1,7006,691$35,581$254
All Canada (128)$12,80045,737$401,505$251

Derived from Statistics Canada (2005). A Profile of Canadian Exporters 1993-2005.

The above analysis indicates that the Maritime Provinces are much better funded than Central Canada, PNR, or British Columbia. From a resource costing perspective, Ontario, Québec and British Columbia are under funded.

These numbers have to be considered in the context of the ROs' proposed work plans and the role that they must play in comparison to the province and other departments and agencies. Whether this implies that significant additional funding is required cannot be known until the workload and strategy of each RO is better delineated.

Finding # 17: Adequacy of Human Resources

The Evaluation Team concluded from the study that:

  • That the RO staff does not as yet feel that they are an integral and valued part of the Trade Commissioner Service.
  • Administrative support from Finance and Human Resources at HQ to ROs is still insufficient, and turnaround times are inadequate to meet needs and deadlines of ROs;
  • Offices are short of staff for the role they are asked to play. The staff experience and competency is appropriate, but there are gaps in knowledge of companies that are science and technology intensive.

A number of areas were investigated with respect to human resources, including:

  • Staff morale concerning their integration into DFAIT;
  • Adequacy of administrative support;
  • Adequacy of the staff capacity in the Regional Offices, in terms of capability and numbers; and
  • Mobility, career progression, and training issues.

Staff Morale Concerning their Integration into DFAIT

Interviews and focus groups with the RO staff indicated that the RO staff does not, as yet, feel that they are an integral and valued part of the Trade Commissioner Service. The RO staff is of the opinion that the Regional Offices are considered to be a mission/post with much the same responsibilities for serving clients, but with much more limited resources, and a limited delegation of authority to do their jobs.

Administrative Issues

DFAIT assumed responsibility of the Regional Offices in 2004 from Industry Canada. Until 2007, Industry Canada continued to provide administrative services in finance, human resources and material management through its own Regional Offices. DFAIT took over administrative services for the ROs last year, but without sufficient capacity at the Regional Offices or at headquarters in Ottawa to handle the workload. Administrative functions are now centralized in Ottawa in the Finance Division of the Corporate Services Branch and in the Human Resources Branch. The Regional Offices Bureau provides support and assistance to the ROs with respect to administrative, human resource and financial transactions.

Generally, the Regional Offices do not have local assistance for information systems, communications, human-resource and financial issues, and must therefore rely on remote help lines or telephone contacts in Ottawa to solve their problems. Delays in response and staff turnover in Ottawa, as well as insufficient staff to handle the workload, have been problematic.

This has lead to some serious delays in contracting external resources, processing invoices, hiring staff, and processing invoices and travel claims. Staff believes that the level of service and time to complete transactions has been unsatisfactory. At the time of the evaluation, the situation was slowly improving but still was considered unsatisfactory by RO staff. This finding is confirmed by the results of the staff survey, as noted earlier, wherein only 14% of respondents indicated that Regional Offices receive good support from HQ.

Adequacy, Mix and Capacity of RO Staffing

An issue that has been raised by DFAIT staff in Ottawa HQ, as well as at the Regional Offices, is the mix and capacity of staff in the ROs. At present, most of the RO staff are in the CO category. There is an objective of ensuring that some of the RO staff is Foreign Service (FS) rotational trade commissioners with international experience. This approach will provide another dimension to the experience in the regional office, where there is currently good knowledge of the provincial business communities but limited experience internationally. (There are FS staff members assigned to a number of offices, either as senior trade commissioners, or working as trade commissioners).

Discussions with provincial government staff and with other federal agencies indicated the importance of local staff building networks with the business community. Knowledge of local companies and their capabilities and interests is an important part of the value-added by the Regional Offices. Provincial officials underlined the importance of maintaining a local base of knowledge of the provincial sectors and companies in the Regional Offices.

Results from the staff survey suggested that only 18% of staff respondents indicated that Regional Offices have an adequate number of staff. However, the majority of business client survey respondents (84%) indicated that Regional Offices have the right people (staff), with the right skill set to meet the needs of Canadian businesses (Exhibit 2).

Adequacy of Training

The Evaluation Team reviewed the level of sectoral expertise required, and determined that the expertise available is generally satisfactory based on the interviews and surveys, with the exception of the science technology and innovation area. In the latter area, some officers require increased training and competency. Some have already gained the necessary experience on their own or through training offered by DFAIT. The Innovation and Sector Branch in Ottawa is currently reviewing the situation and is in the process of expanding its training and awareness building for Trade Commissioners. This finding is supported by the results from the staff survey, wherein only 41% of respondents indicated that staff has been adequately trained; however, staff also indicated that they are knowledgeable of their Canadian capabilities within their priority sectors in their region (77%), and the majority of staff (75%) suggested that RO staff are knowledgeable of their priority sectors. The majority of business client survey respondents (72%) also indicated that regional office staff possess in depth knowledge of business-client specific sectors (Exhibit 2).

Career Progression, Mobility and Training

An issue brought forward in the focus groups and the staff survey is the lack of career progression opportunities for staff, especially younger staff working in the Regional Offices. For example, only 19% of staff respondents indicated that there is good career potential for RO staff. The issue relates to the fact that the path to advancement in the department is through the FS category. The FS category is seen as a bilingual imperative position and is considered very competitive. Staff also noted that training in French is not provided by the department in regions where positions are not mandatory bilingual. Because staff who is hired outside of the National Capital Region (NCR), Québec and possibly New Brunswick are not likely to be bilingual and are not typically eligible for French language training, they are therefore not likely to have access to employment in the FS category.

Many RO staff believed that, as COs, they were not eligible for rotation and thus lack opportunities for professional development through overseas rotations. RO staff are not aware that COs may accept single assignments at missions and HQ.

Hiring of Staff

The Prairie and Northern Region has been affected by the shortages of skills and salary inflation in the Western provinces. This has made hiring of staff extremely difficult in a tight job market. There are two aspects to this problem. First, federal government salaries do not take into account local costs and job market conditions. As a result, salaries are too low to attract the type of staff needed. Second, the long delays in staffing that are characteristic of the federal government has created a situation where the time to complete the hiring process is too lengthy, and staff hired through the competitive process have tended to leave before their offer is issued.

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4.0 Key Conclusions and Recommendations

4.1 Conclusions

Overall, the evaluation concluded that the Regional Offices are well regarded and highly valued by the many business clients and partners that depend on them for a link to the DFAIT international network of missions. The level of satisfaction with the Regional Offices is high, with over 90% of clients surveyed indicating that they are satisfied or very satisfied with the services provided. Similar results also emerged from the interviews with staff at the missions and the partners in the provincial government and the federal regional development agencies.

The Regional Offices are faced with a number of challenges, however:

  • The provincial governments as well as the federal regional development agencies such as ACOA and WD, have much greater resources for export development and investment attraction than does DFAIT;
  • The federal regional development agencies have a stronger profile regionally. As well, the provinces have much greater provincial coverage through Regional Offices and a larger number of staff available to work with businesses.
  • The DFAIT Regional Offices, especially those in the major centers (especially, Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal), are under-resourced, and burdened with administrative tasks, which reduce their effectiveness. This reduces their ability to spend time with business clients.

Nonetheless, the Regional Offices are uniquely positioned as the main linkage for Canadian government and private sector organizations to DFAIT's missions abroad. The ROs are highly valued for their ability to provide advice to businesses on the international business environment. As well, their ability to connect partners and business clients to appropriate contacts in the missions and in target markets is also considered invaluable.

Mandate, Objectives and Role of the ROs

The evaluation concluded that:

  • Although the mandate and objectives for the Regional Offices (ROs) within DFAIT are well documented and well understood by senior DFAIT staff, over half of the RO staff, as well as staff at the DFAIT missions, do not believe that their role is well enough defined vis-à-vis the missions and other members of the regional trade networks. As well, there is a need to increase awareness of the DFAIT ROs throughout DFAIT and within the regional trade networks.
  • As a result the evaluation concluded that as part of the business planning process, the ROs have to define their role and comparative advantage within the regional trade networks more explicitly, and seek to obtain agreement with the province (if possible through an MOU), that clearly defines their role versus that of the province in trade and investment.
  • The TCS recently initiated an integrated approach to trade, investment and science and technology for Trade Commissioners. The evaluation confirmed that the integrated approach has been slow to evolve. The evaluation indicated a need for increased training for officers, and some re-consideration of the competencies of personnel that may be required in future to apply the integrated approach.

Business Planning

The evaluation concluded:

  • That the business plans primarily focus on major events and initiatives, as these are often agreed to in advance with partners. Although the overall planning cycle works well, there are some areas, which could be strengthened:
    • The annual plans do not specifically discuss the strategic positioning of the RO and the overall positioning and strategy that the RO wishes to take with respect to the RTN;
    • The annual plans do not specifically address all of the resource estimates and requirements to undertake the workplan;
    • Although outreach to clients and working with clients is considered a key objective for the ROs, the plans do not expressly identify the potential client base, objectives for new client acquisition, and the approach and resources that will be allocated to client-centered activities.
  • The business planning methodology provides a useful framework to guide performance. However, the planning process does not set specific enough objectives for client interaction. As a result, DFAIT officers have tended to be unclear about the objectives that they should be striving for and the approach that should be taken with respect to clients. The different capacities of the various provincial governments in terms of working with clients in export development and investment attraction also make planning appropriate coverage of existing and potential clients difficult.

Relevance

The evaluation found that:

  • Clients surveyed were satisfied with the services received from the regional office staff. Interviewees in all six provinces visited were adamant about the need for a DFAIT regional office to assist them develop connections to the missions/posts abroad and to obtain direct input and advice on their international business development plans.

Effectiveness

The evaluation concluded that:

  • All of the regions rely on partnerships (either formal or informal), with other federal agencies and with provincial organizations in trade development and export attraction, which are through the regional trade networks (RTN). The partnership arrangements vary from well-defined formal arrangements to highly informal networks that are used solely for information sharing. DFAIT depends on partners to assist in reaching out to clients and to fund various events. The partners in turn depend on the DFAIT ROs as a window into the federal system, and as a link to the DFAIT missions/posts abroad.
  • The RTNs provide essential leverage of DFAIT resources, both financial and non-financial. RTN partners often are the main source of funds for clients, with DFAIT providing the knowledge and expertise. Partners often have much more extensive contact networks, which enables DFAIT to increase its own client base.
  • Performance indicators have been developed by a DFAIT working group for the Export/Investment components of the International Business Development program. It is the understanding of the Evaluation Team that this performance grid has not been finalized. A number of concerns have been identified with respect to using TRIO both as a client database as well as a performance measurement system.
  • The lack of a coherent approach to client acquisition and the lack of specific objectives for working with clients have also contributed to less focus on clients by the ROs than management would like to see. ROs may approach client acquisition in different ways. The evaluation results suggest that the business clients are largely acquired as a result of follow-ups on contacts made at trade events, conferences, etc, closely followed by client acquisition via cold calls, and referrals made by partners.
  • The Evaluation Team reviewed the allocation of resources to the Regional Offices in terms of staff in particular. The methodology used to allocate resources is not clear, and does not relate to the potential in terms of international business development at the provincial level. There are no resourcing standards for officers in the Regional Offices related to the number of active clients, numbers of SMEs, number of active exporters, and/or the resources required to carry out the business plan in the region.
  • A review of the allocation of staff and the funds available to run the regional office network indicated that the regional office budget is quite limited for the mandate that has been provided to them. Our analysis indicated that relative to the number of exporting firms or value of exports, the Maritime Provinces are much better funded than Central, Western Canada, or British Columbia.

With respect to human resources, the Evaluation Team concluded from the study that:

  • The RO staff does not as yet feel that they are an integral and valued part of the Trade Commissioner Service;
  • RO Trade Commissioners that are Commerce Officer designation believe that they do not have adequate access to overseas assignment and to language training that is necessary to advance their careers;
  • RO Trade Commissioners in non-bilingual designated positions do not have access to HQ based training where bilingualism is a requirement. As some key courses are only offered in a bilingual format, they believe that they are not receiving all of the training necessary fro their job assignment;
  • ROs in Alberta have found it difficult to hire staff due to the competitive job market. Salaries in the west do not take into account cost of living differences to Eastern Canada, and the lengthy hiring process is too long resulting in many potential hires moving to other offers before an offer can be issues by DFAIT.

The evaluation concluded based on the interviews and survey results that the administrative policies and guidelines concerning local travel and hospitality have impeded the Trade Commissioners ability to effectively interact with clients.

Recommendation #1:
Clarification of the RO Role, Mandate and Business Strategies

Each DFAIT RO should define its role within the context of the TCS mandate but specifically to best fit the needs of the province, and the profiles of the federal and provincial partners in the Regional Trade Networks (RTN). This would require an expansion of the business planning exercise to identify the roles played by other organizations including provincial government and private sector agencies, and the overall positioning and strategy that the RO wishes to take with respect to their RTN.

DFAIT should also review the role that the ROs should play with respect to science and technology and investment development. Based on this assessment, the staff and training requirements should be identified, in order to permit the offices to function more effectively.

In this regard, Global Operations Branch should review and improve the business planning process so that the annual plans specifically discuss the strategic positioning of the RO; address all of the resource estimates and requirements to undertake the workplan; and identify the potential client base, objectives for new client acquisition; and the approach and resources that will be allocated to client-centered activities.

Recommendation #2:
Client Acquisition, Servicing and Retention

Clearer objectives, methods and approaches, and standards for client acquisition and maintenance should be developed for the ROs. This requires:

  • Guidelines or quantitative and qualitative objectives for officers in terms of the numbers and/or nature of business clients that can be managed by individual trade commissioners in the business communities in their regions;
  • Guidelines or quantitative and qualitative objectives for officers in terms of the numbers of new business clients that trade commissioners should try to recruit yearly in their region;
  • Guidelines for client acquisition;
  • Guidelines for contacting existing client companies, taking into account other provincial and regional partners.
Recommendation #3:
Alignment of Resources with Economic Activity

A more systematic methodology for the allocation of resources to Regional Offices should be developed. The methodology should take into consideration the number and nature of businesses in the province, the amount of international business emanating from the province, and the forecast workload of the office in terms of work with clients and special events.

Recommendation #4:
Awareness Building

Increased awareness of the role of the Regional Offices is needed to ensure that DFAIT staff in HQ and in the missions abroad fully understand and exploit the ROs. As part of this awareness building, the role and functions of the DFAIT ROs should be clearly described, and their mandate, particularly in the area of client acquisition and retention, should be identified and positioned in relation to the missions, headquarters, and the RTNs. The business community should also be included in the mix particularly given the views they expressed to the Evaluation Team such that business clients often discovered by accident that the ROs were the key interface with DFAIT's missions/posts. A communications campaign targeted at the business communities in each of the regions could be undertaken, however, at a time when the role of the ROs is fully defined and clarified.

Recommendation #5:
Coordination with Partners

The DFAIT ROs should encourage the provincial governments and other partners to agree on and then document the roles of each of the organizations within the Regional Trade Network in that particular province. This is to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure complementarities. It will also reduce excessive contacts with SMEs by multiple organizations with potential client fatigue. Although a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the RO and the provincial government is a preferred approach, similar to how the Prairie and Northern Region has been operating with its provincial counterpart, other workable arrangements that are understood by partners have also proven effective in the informal and formal linkages formed by various ROs with their key regional partners.

Recommendation #6:
Human Resources Management

Global Operations Branch should work closely with Human Resources to ensure that staff at ROs has access to overseas opportunities through postings or temporary duty assignments; and that staff in unilingual ROs have access to language training and to other HQ training as required to permit them to advance in their jobs.

With respect to hiring, DFAIT human resources should review the length of the hiring process to see if it can be streamlined or shortened. As well, Human Resources should review the feasibility of providing cost of living adjustment allowances to both rotational and non-rotational staff that move to higher cost locations in Canada.

A dedicated human resources officer or team is recommended to ensure that ROs are receiving a similar level of service as Divisions at HQ and missions/posts since many of the staff indicated a problem in this area.

Resourcing standards for ROs should also be developed based on the nature and level of workload in each office. Accurately measured workloads and estimated times to complete the various types of activities undertaken in the ROs should be considered in developing the standards.

Recommendation #7:
Streamlining Administrative Policies and Guidelines

DFAIT should review its administrative policies and guidelines to ensure that they provide ROs with the flexibility needed to do their job. In addition, the ROs should be provided with efficient service from HQ to ensure the timely processing of administrative requirements, e.g., travel authorities and claims, contracts and invoices for payment. It is recommended that the financial and administrative business process and procedures in operation in the ROs be reviewed in order to improve efficiency and to ensure that client-centered work is not impeded by administrative requirements. Consideration should be given to conducting an audit by the Chief Audit Executive (ZBD) in this regard.

Recommendation #8:
Need for Implementation of a Performance Measurement System

DFAIT should fully develop a performance measurement system for the ROs as part of its overall performance measurement strategy taking into consideration the work that has already been undertaken by the Regional Office Performance Measurement Working Group including examining the indicators that were developed and determining those that would yield useful information. The emphasis on the performance measurement system for the ROs should toward ensuring that the right information is being collected for decision-making and that an undue burden is not placed on the ROs for unnecessary data collection impeding them from working with clients.

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Annex 1: Case Study

Integrative Trade in Newfoundland

This case study reflects the experiences of Jane Rutherford, a Trade Commissioner in the St. John's Regional Office who has been using a cluster approach to build science and technology, business, and investment relationships.

As a trade commissioner in DFAIT's St. John's regional office, Jane Rutherford hears from companies in the ocean technologies, aerospace and defence sectors interested in doing business outside of Canada. "Where this once meant helping such firms sell their products or services internationally, today I consider other objectives they may have, such as RD partnerships, investment interests and commercializing new technologies. It's a 360° proposition," said Jane.

For the past 18 months, Jane Rutherford has been working closely with the Canadian Consulate in San Diego to help build science and technology, business and investment relationships between the two regions. St. John's and San Diego are home to two of North America's largest ocean technologies clusters, a concentration of companies and institutions with goods, services, research and training in marine and ocean industries. Together, they are also working in northern Mexico, also home to a significant number of marine companies and research institutes.

Partners in the "cluster-to-cluster" project now include NGOs in St. John's and San Diego, the posts in Mexico City and San Diego, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the National Research Council, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the City of St. John's. Two NGOs––OceansAdvance in St. John's and the Center for Maritime Systems and Security in San Diego––signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in mid-2007 to collaborate on business, investment and RD.

The MOU led to a successful mission from Newfoundland in April 2008 to San Diego and northern Mexico, which was led by Trevor Taylor, Newfoundland and Labrador's Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, and included representatives from nine ocean technologies companies as well as Memorial University's Marine Institute. They met with companies, toured industrial and academic institutions and hosted forums. This resulted in connections between companies and institutions in St. John's, San Diego and Baja California in Mexico. In addition to leads and contacts, her clients have gained fruitful relationships and acceptance in the ocean technologies and maritime security network on the west coast of North America.

The ocean technologies cluster in Newfoundland and Labrador is dynamic and highly focused on international markets. The relationship building continues between St. John's and San Diego with more activities planned but companies have also started to identify other potential markets around the world for their next cluster to cluster project.

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Annex 2: Management Response

RecommendationsManagement Response and Action PlanResponsibility CentreTime Frame
Recommendation 1:

Clarification of the RO Role, Mandate and Business Strategies

Each DFAIT RO should define its role within the context of the TCS mandate but specifically to best fit the needs of the province, and the profiles of the federal and provincial partners in the Regional Trade Networks (RTN). This would require an expansion of the business planning exercise to identify the roles played by other organizations including provincial government and private sector agencies, and the overall positioning and strategy that the RO wishes to take with respect to their RTN.

DFAIT should also review the role that the ROs should play with respect to science and technology and investment development. Based on this assessment, the staff and training requirements should be identified, in order to permit the offices to function more effectively.

In this regard, Global Operations Branch should review and improve the business planning process so that the annual plans specifically discuss the strategic positioning of the RO; address all of the resource estimates and requirements to undertake the workplan; and identify the potential client base, objectives for new client acquisition; and the approach and resources that will be allocated to client-centered activities.

Management Response:

The role of the Regional Office (RO) regarding the overall TCS mandate is clear. As the domestic base of DFAIT in all provinces, the ROs will discuss and develop initiatives that reflect DFAIT's priorities, sector and country strategies with partners and will work with Canadian business to assist them in taking advantage of international commerce opportunities.

There is no desire on the part of all partners to participate in a comprehensive business planning exercise. Rather, most partners prefer to engage in consultation and information sharing on major initiatives. A comprehensive business plan delineating the roles of Federal Departments, Regional Development Agencies, Business Associations, Provinces and key Municipalities would be a mammoth undertaking and would not succeed in defining a division of labour among the plethora of government organizations involved in international commerce. As noted in the evaluation report there are a high number of partners and fellow-service providers in the Regional Office environment (as an example the evaluation report cited 21 partners for NS). In most provinces, a role identification exercise would simply conclude that many partners share and offer services that do not allow for a clear division of labour.

Finally, headquarters does not have such an extensive planning process in place that encompasses all Federal departments, the Provinces and Economic Development Agencies.

Rather than defining the roles of partners through a business planning process, the Regional Offices will work with partners to communicate DFAIT's strategic objectives, co-ordinate efforts, leverage expertise and resources, and work closely with business clients to connect them to international commerce opportunities. The Regional Offices will also encourage partners to avoid duplication of effort. Events and strategies either initiated by the Regional Offices or ones undertaken with partners will be reflected in the business plans of each Regional Office. These Regional Office business plans will reflect the co-operation among key partners and will highlight initiatives reflecting DFAIT's priorities and objectives in assisting clients.

The evaluation is a snapshot of the operations of the Regional Offices and at the time of the evaluation observations were made regarding investment and innovation. In the context of the timing of the implementation of the Global Commerce Strategy, the department had not received funding and had not fully developed an implementation plan for investment and innovation. BSR is currently working with other divisions to clearly define the role of the Regional Offices with respect to these two elements.

  
Action plan:

1. Each RO will develop an autonomous strategy of how to maximize the coordination amongst partners at the least cost in terms of time devoted to the partnership.

All ROsOngoing
2. BSR has worked extensively with PDC to improve the planning template used for missions and Regional Offices. The new template will allow the Regional Offices to reflect a more strategic approach to the role it will undertake to assist clients in order to take advantage of international commerce opportunities. During the next planning phase a separate instruction will be sent to all Regional Offices to develop a more strategic approach related to trade, trade policy, investment, innovation and partnership activities.BSR, PDC,
All ROs
January 2009 - March 2009
3. BSR will work with BIS (investment) and BBT (S T) to develop and define the role of the Regional Office with respect to these two elements. The role of the Regional Offices must take into account current networks, priorities and processes of the provinces and key partners. This role once developed/defined will be included in the RO Learning initiative and RO plans.BSR
BIS
BBT
BTR
January 2009 - June 2009
4. Regional Directors and STCs will reinforce the role and mandate of the Regional Offices as it relates to departmental priorities and strategies. This will be reinforced during the planning process.All ROsJanuary 2009
Recommendation 2:

Client Acquisition, Servicing and Retention

Clearer objectives, methods and approaches, and standards for client acquisition and maintenance should be developed for the ROs. This requires:

  • Guidelines or quantitative and qualitative objectives for officers in terms of the numbers and/or nature of business clients that can be managed by individual trade commissioners in the business communities in their regions;
  • Guidelines or quantitative and qualitative objectives for officers in terms of the numbers of new business clients that trade commissioners should try to recruit yearly in their region;
  • Guidelines for client acquisition;
  • Guidelines for contacting existing client companies, taking into account other provincial and regional partners.
Management Response:

Management agrees with the Evaluation Report's findings that clearer standards for client acquisition and development should be constituted. Indeed, since the report was undertaken new performance measurement standards have been unveiled and implemented. A Performance Measurement Working Group meets regularly to discuss implementation of these new standards and to chart progress towards meeting individual Regional Office Targets. Going forward, it is reasonable to expect all Regional Offices to include specific performance targets in their business plans and to work toward the sharing of best practices among all Regional Offices.

The Regional Offices have lead in the utilization of TRIO for a simple and transparent basis for measuring performance against clearly stated client acquisition targets. Since the Evaluation report was written, all Regional Offices have trained their officers utilizing Export Development Corporation's SPIN selling course to improve on their ability to identify client needs and to provide value added during each outcall.

  
Action plan:

1. As part of the planning process, Regional Offices will share their initial target ranges for client acquisition and service. This will include not only quantitative targets but will also reflect other activities that must be fulfilled by the Regional Offices such as incoming and outgoing missions, executive outreach, promotion of bilateral trade agreements, signature trade fair events, etc.

BSR
All ROs
January 2009 - March 2009
2. Throughout FY 2009/10 BSR will collect best practices and tools used for client acquisition and will organize these in a toolkit to be posted to Horizons. The information collected will also be used in developing the RO Learning Initiative lead by BTR.BSR/BTR
All ROs
Completed and ongoing
3. Regional managers will set a quantitative definition of the optimal size of client portfolio to ensure that client acquisition is translated into connecting the client to international commerce opportunities.BSROngoing
4. Discussions will continue with HQ divisions regarding client contact as there appears to be potential for considerable overlap.BSR and BFM divisionsOngoing
5. Client acquisition targets will form part of regional officers PMPs.All ROsOngoing
Recommendation 3:

Alignment of Resources with Economic Activity

A more systematic methodology for the allocation of resources to Regional Offices should be developed. The methodology should take into consideration the number and nature of businesses in the province, the amount of international business emanating from the province, and the forecast workload of the office in terms of work with clients and special events.

Management Response:

Management agrees with this recommendation. The evaluation made an assessment of existing assets prior to the implementation of the Global Commerce Strategy. Thus, the analysis was based on the structure and dispersion on resources by Industry Canada as no adjustments were made after the transfer of the Regional Offices to DFAIT.

The number of FTEs under the Global Commerce Strategy was allocated on the basis of VTC and TRIO, clients and industry sector analysis.

With regard to various funding envelopes such as the NAPP and CSF, the Regional Offices participate in a similar manner as missions for funding.

In late fall, BSD presented issues related to the funding of the regional offices to the Core Services Board. The result was that discussions were to be held with Director Generals regarding services such as IT support, relocation, training, finance, accommodation, FSD's and administrative services. BSD is to report to the Core Services Board and to make recommendation on resourcing to the Core Services Board.

  
Action plan:

1. Refinement of the allocation model will be ongoing given the need to measure the effect of an increase in over thirty percent of Regional Office staff due to the Global Commerce Strategy.

BSROngoing
2. BSD will present resourcing issues to the Core Services Board.BSD, BSRJanuary 2009 - March 2009
Recommendation 4:

Awareness Building

Increased awareness of the role of the Regional Offices is needed to ensure that DFAIT staff in HQ and in the missions abroad fully understand and exploit the ROs. As part of this awareness building, the role and functions of the DFAIT ROs should be clearly described, and their mandate, particularly in the area of client acquisition and retention, should be identified and positioned in relation to the missions, headquarters, and the RTNs. The business community should also be included in the mix particularly given the views they expressed to the Evaluation Team such that business clients often discovered by accident that the ROs were the key interface with DFAIT's missions/posts. A communications campaign targeted at the business communities in each of the regions could be undertaken, however, at a time when the role of the ROs is fully defined and clarified.

Management Response:

Both internal and external communications plans are advocated in the evaluation report.

Management agrees there is a need to create more awareness of the TCS brand and, more specifically, awareness of the role of the Ros among Canadian businesses and IBD stakeholders.

At the same time, greater communication of the role and mandate of the ROs is needed among internal audiences: ROs themselves; TCS at posts; and HQ staff. Greater awareness among senior management in HQ is needed so that appropriate expectations are established in light of the performance objectives of the ROs, i.e. Client Acquisition. Given there are 12 ROs and 5 one-person Satellite offices with approximately 137 officers compared to over 150 missions abroad and over 850 dedicated trade staff abroad, the ability/desire for the department to exploit the Ros must be managed so ROs can focus on client acquisition.

  
Action plan:

Three (3) Communication plans are being developed and implemented.

  
1. External Communication activities: In progress in collaboration with Communications Branch. Includes:BSR
CMS
All ROs
1st Phase March 2009
2nd Phase August 2009
  • RO Web Strategy: a tool for clients to self-serve and for ROs to acquire clients
  
  • RO Web Content Strategy: documents by sector, in support of economic growth in regions
 March 2009
  • messaging and client acquisition at signature events and during outcalls (in progress, ongoing)
 In progress, ongoing
  • TCS regional pamphlets with company testimonials (in progress, ongoing)
 In progress, ongoing
  • various e-tools (pod-casts)
  
2. Internal Communications activities: In progress in collaboration with Communications Branch. Includes:BSR
CMS
All ROs
February 2009
Ongoing
  • articles, webinars, pod-casts of interviews with RO Trade Commissioner
  
  • guidelines on Horizons
 December 2008
  • TRIO RO sector content synchronized with posts, improved connectivity in TRIO with posts
 December 2008
  • Strategic messages to HoMs
 January 2009
  • Info60 (Jan 09)
BSR/BTRPilot - March 2009
  • RO Learning Initiative (in planning)
  
3. Internal Communications to Senior ManagementBSDJanuary 2009 - June 2009
  • DG/Director presentations to Core Services Board
  
  • DG/Director strategic advocating to promote FSDP's in regional assignments
  
Recommendation 5:

Coordination with Partners

The DFAIT ROs should encourage the provincial governments and other partners to agree on and then document the roles of each of the organizations within the Regional Trade Network in that particular province. This is to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure complementarities. It will also reduce excessive contacts with SMEs by multiple organizations with potential client fatigue. Although a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the RO and the provincial government is a preferred approach, similar to how the Prairie and Northern Region has been operating with its provincial counterpart, other workable arrangements that are understood by partners have also proven effective in the informal and formal linkages formed by various ROs with their key regional partners.

Management Response:

Regional Offices are best placed to describe in strategic terms the goals and objectives of their working relationships with partners in each region. Each Regional Office should include a section in their business planning documents that situates their work alongside that of their counterparts and other partners. Management does not agree that each Regional Office should enter into a formal agreement with other partners in Regional Trade Networks as each province functions differently. Management does agree that mechanisms should be in place for the Regional offices and partners to discuss and develop highly efficient processes to regularly share priorities and to co-ordinate service offerings to the client.

  
Action plan:

1. Regional Offices will continue to work with regional partners (OGDs, the Provinces, Business Associations, Economic Development Agencies, and Municipalities) to co-ordinate activities where possible.

All ROsOngoing
2. Regional Offices will continue to use fora that are most suited to the wishes of their Regional partners.All ROsOngoing
3. Regional Offices will continue to capture in TRIO collaborative work with partners.All ROsOngoing
4. Regional Offices will conduct an environmental scan of service offerings by partners.All ROsJune 2009 - December 2009
Recommendation 6:

Human Resources Management

Global Operations Branch should work closely with Human Resources to ensure that staff at ROs has access to overseas opportunities through postings or temporary duty assignments; and that staff in unilingual ROs have access to language training and to other HQ training as required to permit them to advance in their jobs.

With respect to hiring, DFAIT human resources should review the length of the hiring process to see if it can be streamlined or shortened. As well, Human Resources should review the feasibility of providing cost of living adjustment allowances to both rotational and non-rotational staff that move to higher cost locations in Canada.

A dedicated human resources officer or team is recommended to ensure that ROs are receiving a similar level of service as Divisions at HQ and missions/posts since many of the staff indicated a problem in this area.

Resourcing standards for ROs should also be developed based on the nature and level of workload in each office. Accurately measured workloads and estimated times to complete the various types of activities undertaken in the ROs should be considered in developing the standards.

Management Response:

International Business Development, Investment and Innovation Branch (BFM) is working closely with Human Resources to ensure that all staff at ROs have access to overseas opportunities through posting or temporary duty assignments. All assignment opportunities for FS positions and temporary duty assignments are announced through the departmental broadcast messaging service to all staff including ROs. This is an effective mechanism as is evidenced by the recent temporary duty assignment of an RO officer to Dubai. Ongoing promotion of the benefits of ensuring RO staff are considered for assignments abroad will be done with the Assignment and Pool Management Division (HFP).

Currently non-rotational RO staff access official language training, with their manager's approval, within their regions. The training is funded from each RO's operational budget. This process is similar to that which is followed within HQ. However, it is important to note that some regions are designated as non-bilingual which can make it difficult for the employee and the manager to substantiate the need for official language training at government expense since the position may not be designated as bilingual. Training in official languages may be more efficient in the National Capital Region as opposed to other parts in Canada. Financing of TD costs would be required if training was undertaken in the National Capital Region.

HQ professional development training offered at HQ is an issue since in order for employees to attend they need to travel to Ottawa. Depending on the region, the costs associated with the training can be considerable when accommodation and per diems are included. The operational budgets for the regions are not resourced adequately to cover these costs for all employees. More needs to be done to ensure that training funds are provided to allow RO staff to receive the necessary training to retain and improve their competencies and skills.

BSR
All ROs
Geographics
HFP
Ongoing
Action plan:

1. BFM/BSD/BSR will continue to work with Human Resources to raise the profile of regional officers as potential candidates for assignments abroad. Since the majority of staff in the ROs fall within the CO category, it will be incumbent upon management at HQ to ensure that due consideration is given to RO staff for one time assignments abroad.

BFM
BSD
BSR
HFP
Ongoing
2. BFM/BSD/BSR are involved in ongoing negotiations with corporate services to increase common services funding for ROs to meet training needs.BSD
BSR
January 2009 - April 2010
3. Human Resources have identified a dedicated staffing advisor for the ROs and so has the area management office to which the ROs are now reporting. In addition, BSR provides advice and guidance to ROs on their overall human resources strategies and provides follow up assistance as required with the various staffing processes. BSR, in consultation with HMO and BMG, is also preparing detailed guidelines which will provide information for managers to ensure staffing actions are complete when submitted. This will speed up the staffing processes.BSR
BMG
HMO
Ongoing
Resourcing standards for the ROs is being addressed under recommendation # 3.BSRJanuary 2009
Recommendation 7:

Streamlining Administrative Policies and Guidelines

DFAIT should review its administrative policies and guidelines to ensure that they provide ROs with the flexibility needed to do their job. In addition, the ROs should be provided with efficient service from HQ to ensure the timely processing of administrative requirements, e.g., travel authorities and claims, contracts and invoices for payment. It is recommended that the financial and administrative business process and procedures in operation in the ROs be reviewed in order to improve efficiency and to ensure that client-centered work is not impeded by administrative requirements. Consideration should be given to conducting an audit by the Chief Audit Executive (ZBD) in this regard.

Management Response:

Management agrees with this recommendation. At the time of the evaluation, the responsibility of providing financial administration support had been transferred from Industry Canada to DFAIT. This transfer was not without difficulty and not without considerable adjustment. DFAIT's response to this transfer was inadequate with a lack of resources devoted to the needs of the Regional Offices. For example, at the time of the evaluation in the Prairie and Northern Region, 9 staff were collectively owed $10,700 on travel claims submitted 4-10 weeks previously.

Since September 2009, BSR and BMG have worked in concert to develop financial procedures that will meet the needs of the Regional Offices. Since BMG took over responsibility for the Regional Offices, invoices are paid and contracting is much improved. In order to continue this improvement, BSR and BMG have undertaken to travel to each region to ensure that new procedures and processes will efficiently meet the financial needs of the Regional Offices. BMG and BSR meet regularly to discuss financial issues germane to the Regional Offices. BMG is strenuously advocating with other financial units in the department to ensure that decisions are made that take into account the hybrid nature of the Regional Offices. That is, the Regional Offices are not missions and they are also not a headquarters unit in the National Capital Region. This has resulted in a streamlining of financial processes.

  
Action plan:

1. BSR, BMG and the Regional Offices will continue to improve on the efficiency of the financial system.

BSR
BMG
Ongoing
2. BSR and BMG will complete their visits to Regional Offices to assess the capability of each Regional office and to answer questions regarding financial processes.BSR
BMG
January 2009 - March 2009
3. BMG will produce financial information for managers in the Regional Offices so that they can manage operational and salary funding.BMGOngoing
4. BSR will continue to work with BMG and SMD to ensure that clear guidelines and processes are developed and posted on Horizons as required to ensure that client centered work is not impeded by administrative requirements.BSR
BMG
SMD
Ongoing
Recommendation 8:

Need for Implementation of a Performance Measurement System

DFAIT should develop a performance measurement system for the ROs as part of its overall performance measurement strategy taking into consideration the work that has already been undertaken by the Regional Office Performance Measurement Working Group including examining the indicators that were developed and determining those that would yield useful information. The emphasis on the performance measurement system for the ROs should be toward ensuring that the right information is being collected for decision-making and that the ROs are not faced with an undue burden of unnecessary data collection impeding them from working with clients.

Management Response:

A Performance Measurement (PM) system using TRIO was put in place across Canada effective fiscal year 08/09.

Action plan:

Recognizing the need to develop a performance measurement (PM) system, the Working Group on Performance Measurement met in September 2007 to review and revise the indicators with the objective of implementing an electronic method to report on performance indicators. All Ros participated in this session. BSR and PDC (Strategic Trade Planning and Performance Management) also took active roles. A new set of PM indicators was launched in May 2008. Indicator data is now extracted from TRIO on a quarterly basis and a national roll up report is shared with ROs and senior management.

BSR and the working group continue to work closely with PDC to ensure that the performance measurement indicators for the ROs are reflected in the overall International Commerce Performance Framework and that the results captured by ROs is in line with departmental reporting requirements which is used to prepare responses to departmental reporting such as the DPR, the MAF etc.

The Working Group continues its work. BSR is in consultation with E-Services and Business Development Systems to improve the reporting capability of TRIO to capture client transfers from ROs to Posts (connectivity) and to capture the progression of prospective clients to TCS clients. In addition the working group is looking at identifying PM indicators for investment which will be followed by identifying indicators for innovation.

BSR
PDC
All ROs
New PM indicators were launched in May 2008
  • Indicators were tested in July 2008 when the first RO PM Quarterly report was prepared.
  • The Working Group will analyse the first annual report in April 2009 and recommend adjustments if necessary
  • The Working Group plans to introduce indicators for investment for April, 2009. Innovation indicators will be addressed in FY 09/10.

Office of the Inspector General


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Date Modified:
2012-10-04