Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Open Letter To Federal Politicians: Inadequate Computer Systems at Revenue Canada

To Whom it may concern,

It has come to my attention from various internal staff  that the most vital section of the government does not have adequate computer systems.  As Revenue Canada is responsible for accounts receivable, accounts payable and distribution of funds to various other government departments this inadequacy is reflected on all other government ministries.

This was evident in the media with the latest Heartbleat issue but from recently talking to various employees and managers in the Call Center, the issue seems more widespread.  Things are slipping through the cracks for some while others are flagged repeatedly for the same deduction up to 5 years in a row.  Providing no economic gain for Revenue Canada this is a waste of resources, however with the current systems there is no way of providing analytics reports cross tax years without intense manual intervention.  There is no way of determining what is working year to year, tracking and reducing wasted time by Revenue Canada employees and Canadian Citizens, reporting areas where paper can be reduced to save the environment.

A project to upgrade and improve the computer systems would be helpful in many ways, here are a few examples:

  1. It would allow Revenue Canada employees to focus their efforts on higher risk areas, raising revenue potential.
  2. It would provide additional jobs for Canadian High-Tech professionals.  We keep hearing how we should invest in High-Tech jobs, well providing jobs to these students as co-op positions and then after graduation would go a long way.
  3. It would make Canadians feel less bullied by Revenue Canada as the same people are not targeted year after year while others get away with everything.  Tracking year to year would show that in previous years they submitted the same claim for the same amount and did provide receipts so no need to ask again.

    Here is a link to a vast amount of people having the same issue of being flagged over and over for the Transit Tax Credit because they actually do use public transit and are environmentally conscious.  From what I heard on the call center line this happens on a regular basis with such things as tuition claims, disability claims.  From the explanation on the phone it is not Revenue Canada employees flagging them it is the computer system, which does not have the proper workflows or algorithms to properly assess risk.
  4. With proper tracking there would be less chance cheques would get sent out in error. Recently I moved and a tax reassessment notice bounced. Even so Revenue Canada still issued a tax return cheque to that address.  If the systems were connected and proper workflow set up, then the cheque would not have been sent and time and paper would not be wasted on additional processes.
  5. Communication between Summer Hill and the Call Center computer systems would provide a greater picture when people call in and reduce the amount of times people have to contact Summer Hill directly through fax.  This is more environmentally friendly. As well it would reduce stress by Call Center employees that get interrogated about tax returns but have no way of knowing the full picture.

As there is an election pending, I would love to hear from Federal Politicians on their stance on providing adequate funding to Revenue Canada to improve their computer systems. You can either post comments on this blog post, make an announcement on your stance or email me at and I can update the blog post with your information as well as ensure through social media channels your commitment to this effort.


Chris Williams

Sunday, May 18, 2014

E-Commerce is hard but can be easier than Bricks and Mortar commerce

I saw a recent article claiming that Ashton Kutchers Pickwick Weller Closes Up Shop Reminding Us That E-Commerce Is Plain Hard and thought I would clear up a few things.

E-Commerce is hard as this article details but no harder than bricks and mortar commerce but it can be easier than Bricks and Mortar commerce if you start up right.  Here are some simple steps:

1) Choose a product to sell.  This is the hard part, I suggest taking some time to ask some friends and brainstorm more than one idea for a product.  To reduce risk keep the cost of making a product low and the amount of time to make them low. This will allow you to make them as they sell rather than having a large inventory. Keep a small inventory to start.

2) Do some market research.  This is a bit simpler.  Once you come up with some products, create a free survey on survey monkey and send it around to your friends and connections, ones you trust not to copy your idea.  Which product would you buy? Why and Why Not?

3) Creating a store.  The simplest and most economical way to do this is create a Shopify Store.  A basic store starts at $29/month.  Test selling for a couple months.

4) Market your product.  There are cheap ways to market your product. You can create a blog on blogger and write a couple articles on it.  Be sure to put Google Analytics and Adsense on our blog to get your article noticed on search. Describe all the good uses for it.  Share this article on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  You may also take advantage of Facebook or Google Ads.  Google often offers $100 free ads for new signups.

5) Analyze the results. Check on our store, are you selling well or not.  As you started with a single product idea and a Shopify store you kept your investment small, less to lose. If that item sells well you can upgrade your Shopify store to contain more items. If your store is doing amazing and you are really expanding then you can invest in a larger e-commerce solution and a larger store front. If it does not sell well you can pick another product and try again J

In conclusion, the important thing is don't dive into the pool without checking if there is water. E-Commerce is hard, but there are lots of ways to keep it simple and investment low to reduce risk.  Maybe your first product will not sell but with this approach, using minimal investment you can try multiple time to be successful rather than diving in with a large investment once.

If you would like help getting started please email us at

Monday, April 7, 2014

Welcome To E-Commerce Guild

E-Commerce Guild is the most recent member of the ReadWatchCreate family. Read Watch Create helps you on your learning journey by recommending articles, videos, products and depending on your specific needs, a mentor or implementor.

This blog is designed to contain various Tip, Tricks and Resources to help you throughout all stages of your E-Commerce implementations.

You can follow us on twitter at @E-CommerceGuild

If you know any Tips, Tricks or resources related to E-Commerce or need assistance related to E-Commerce  please email me at and we will post them here.

You can also register at ReadWatchCreate and we will reach out to discuss your needs.