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CAF OUTCAN digital portal

By Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Caleb Walker 
Published June 15, 2022
WithYouWithMe is assisting the Canadian Armed Forces by building a scalable digital portal for out of country staff to deliver high quality and timely administrative support to deployed members and their families.

The challenge

The Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) published the ‘Engaged in the World’ report, investigating the administration of postings, assignments and employments of Defence Team personnel outside of Canada.

The Report found there was a “lack of effective communication and administrative support” in place for CAF members and their families when posting outside of Canada.

It was recommended the OUTCAN Programme should be optimised to improve the experience of posted members and align with the Defence’s broader digital transformation agenda of streamlining processes and making better use of digital tools.

WithYouWithMe (WYWM) was engaged to deliver a new optimised data-driven solution to improve the communication and administrative processes supporting the OUTCAN Programme.

The solution

WYWM created a digital portal that acts as a single point of entry for the administrative processes involved in an OUTCAN posting.

This streamlining of the business process results in significant time savings and improvements in accuracy, providing a better experience for both administrative staff and the end user.

The initial project focused on the approximately 1000 users within the VCDS OUTCAN Canada department. As of June 2020, there are over 4000 military members, Defence department employees, Non-Public Funds staff and their familied across 70 countries, leaving scope for this project to scale.


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Existing legacy business processes in OUTCAN led to manual information processing resulting in wasted resources, inefficiencies, and mistakes. Without digitisation and tracking metrics, decisions were made on outdated information instead of up to the minute data. The digital portal allowed for an efficient delivery of administrative services, improving data analytics through digitisation.

For example, documents can be tracked throughout the administrative process, providing data on how long a document has been with one user for action. Alerts raise awareness of stalled processing and prod users to act on their administrative tasks. This data analytics capability allows for better data capture, resulting in insight in to processes and a basis for future improvements.

The digitisation of existing processes resulted in significant time savings for both end users and administrators. The OUTCAN process is administration heavy and current processes use informal information submissions, paper forms and multiple sites for managing information. In line with the digital transformation of government, the OUTCAN digital portal reduced time spent on manual processing and inproces accuracy and timeliness, and user satisfaction. An estimated savings of 12 hours per person, per process, means significant savings of thousands of labour hours when scaled to the 4000 personnel and their families currently posted overseas.

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An OUTCAN posting is desirable and is often a key developmental milestone in a member’s career. Most OUTCAN postings involve the members spouse and dependants travelling with them, leading to an increased number of people in need of administrative support. The Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces received numerous complaints about OUTCAN postings, most citing issues with the administration of the program. Members and their families spoke of increased stress levels, uncertainty, and frustration in their engagement with OUTCAN.

The digital portal creates a more streamlined, transparent process for all users: members, families, and administrators. Users can see progress in real time and access all process steps from a single dashboard. The administrative burden is reduced with a resulting increase in confidence in the process. This user-friendly portal supports clients during a challenging time in their career, leading to members and their families who feel secure as they move through the OUTCAN posting process.

The focus on the digital transformation of government services has the potential to create meaningful change in people’s lives. Slow administrative processes and lack of transparency affect not only the OUTCAN member but creates uncertainty and stress in the lives of their families. This OUTCAN digital portal streamlines the process by using existing tools more effectively.

Personnel have a single dashboard and can manage the posting process in a timely way, reducing the stress on themselves and their families. By reducing the administrative burden of an OUTCAN posting, we can refocus on the incredible opportunity of serving Canada overseas.

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Caleb Walker,
Vice President Defence and Government, WithYouWithMe

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