Language selection

Read the blog

Building a multidisciplinary team at ESDC to serve people better

As a manager under the Canada Pension Plan Service Improvement Strategy at Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) I helped create the multidisciplinary team at the Canadian Digital Service (CDS) working on improving the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for people applying for disability benefits.

A screenshot of a tweet from the Canadian Digital Service that reads, We're excited to embark on a new partnership! We're working with our friends at STP to discover how we can improve services for Canadians accessing CPP disability benefits. With a photo of the team doing their daily stand up meeting.

This partnership has been an exciting opportunity since day one. I remember walking away from the initial pitch with my Director General, Megan Kennedy, thinking: “How do we get CDS to work with us?”

When the time came to get this team off the ground, I sat down with my director, George Markus, to talk about who should be on the team. We looked at all the different parts of our organization that play a role in the CPP-D program; we wanted them all involved.

We needed a representative from our policy group, our operations division, and we knew without a doubt we needed IT support, given the nature of CDS’ work. Our organization worked really quickly to provide delegates that would work with CDS. It was amazing to see how fast everything aligned.

Once we had the right people at the table, we began the “discovery” phase. Before too long, it became clear how complex the CPP-D program is. ESDC is such a large organization and it’s been eye-opening for me to realize how little I knew some of my own colleagues.

We started out as strangers for the most part, but everyone has come together on this team, bringing their own set of expertise to work towards a common goal. The CDS team members are really starting to understand our program here at ESDC as well.

We’ve done a lot of research at ESDC about how to improve services, especially with the CPP-D application process. We’ve taken on a lot of different projects and pilots to try and make things better. We think we’ve identified the main challenges within the CPP-D application process, and I’m hoping that we’re right. At the same time, I’m hoping to gain new insights. Are there things that we’re missing — things we didn’t see?

For this reason, it’s been great to build such a comprehensive team with so many different backgrounds and perspectives, who ultimately want to make the process better for the people applying.

It’s certainly been challenging at times. Everything operates a bit differently at CDS compared with the organization I come from. Like any partnership, it’s about finding that balance. While both teams work under the federal government, this experience has reminded me just how different each department functions.

Navigating the tools at CDS, such as Google Drive, has also been a bit overwhelming. Learning to type on a Macbook has been a journey in itself!

“That said, this is work I never thought I’d get to do in my career as a public servant.”

That said, this is work I never thought I’d get to do in my career as a public servant. Having started my career processing CPP claims, it’s really neat to see how far we’ve come and how important that client engagement piece is!

A word cloud that shows most commonly words used in this blog post, including ESDC, CDS, different, team, organization and work.

I look at my mom — my mom’s on Old Age Security and CPP — and hearing her say, “I don’t understand this stuff!” seeing her interacting with our services drives me to want to do better for our clients.

“As public servants, I think we tend to lose sight of that person at the end — the one that’s using our service, and the one that’s struggling to go through our website to find the information they need.”

As public servants, I think we tend to lose sight of that person at the end — the one that’s using our service, and the one that’s struggling to go through our website to find the information they need. With this in mind, it’s been really amazing to see that client engagement work unfold through this partnership. At the end of the day, we want to hear what our clients are saying about our service because we want to make it better.