Toronto, June 22, 2021, – Today Optimus SBR, one of the largest independent management consulting firms in North America, announced their seventh acquisition in a decade with the purchase of a data advisory and analytics firm – Unilytics.  At the same time, they announced the formal establishment of Optimus SBR Technology.

The events of the past year have driven significant changes in consumer behaviour and the way in which people interact to get work done. The rapid acceleration of digital adoption has taken hold across every industry. Optimus SBR has made significant investments over the past several months to support this shift, specifically around Data and Technology.

“I’m thrilled to announce that we have completed our seventh acquisition with the purchase of a data advisory and analytics firm – Unilytics,” said Kevin Gauci, Founder and CEO, Optimus SBR.Unilytics brings over 20 years of experience with helping organizations build their data capabilities to better support decisions, make strategic moves, and set policies with rich reporting and dashboarding capabilities. When added to Optimus SBR’s already strong data offering, this new addition will allow us to offer our clients a more robust suite of data services.” ​

The Unilytics team is excited to be joining Optimus SBR and are eager to offer enhanced services to their existing clients in the areas of service delivery, work practices, subject matter expertise, and skill diversity.

“I am very excited about the continued evolution of the Unilytics story. Optimus SBR shares our entrepreneurial spirit, and their bold, can-do attitude is a strong match to how we have provided clients with value,” said Peder Enhorning, President and CEO, Unilytics.

Optimus SBR is now well positioned to offer an end-to-end solution, from data strategy, governance, infrastructure, and data management, to visualization, insights and training via their expanded offering Optimus SBR Data.

Over the past year, Optimus SBR has seen their clients accelerate initiatives such as their digital offerings as well as rushing to establish remote working infrastructure and effective communication channels. Recognizing this fundamental acceleration of technology adoption, and its increasing criticality to clients’ business models, Optimus SBR also announced the formal establishment of Optimus SBR Technology.

“While we have always offered some technology capabilities, we felt it critical that we expand our official offering of technology services. We have welcomed a new head of Technology, Doug Wilson, formerly of BMO, TD Bank and CGI, and are pleased to offer an expanded portfolio of services that range from IT strategy and transformation through to execution support of IT delivery and operations initiatives,” said Kevin.

Optimus SBR has been on an amazing ten-year journey of providing value-driven and innovative solutions for clients, and these latest developments will help ensure that this story continues.

For the third consecutive year, Optimus SBR is being recognized as one of the Best Workplaces™ in Canada!

Our placement on the 2021 Best Workplaces™ in Canada list is a celebration of the tenacity and Bold Attitude our team possesses. The past year has been difficult for many of us, but we are incredibly proud of the commitment our employees have made in maintaining the culture that makes Optimus SBR a Great Place to Work.

The global pandemic caused us to adjust the delivery of some key culture activities but also created opportunities to get creative with “staying together while working apart”. We have developed programs that fully support our remote work environment, including major investments in mental health, proper virtual work etiquette guides, and a breadth of online social activities, such as talent shows, trivia, and our ever popular ‘Tuesday Talks’ series. Our people are our business, and our culture has continued to remain at the forefront during the pandemic to keep everyone safe and supported.

The 2021 Best Workplaces™ in Canada list is compiled by the Great Place to Work® Institute. The competition process to be ranked on this list is employee driven, based on two criteria: two-thirds of the total score comes from confidential employee survey results and the remaining one-third from an in-depth review of the organization’s culture. This offers a rigorous representation of the organization from an employee perspective, and an overall portrait of the workplace culture. Together, they provide crucial data relative to five trust-building dimensions: credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. This year’s list captured the experience and sentiment of over 82,000 employees, rolling out to impact over 300,000 Canadian employees.

Canadian Business named Optimus SBR to the 32nd annual Growth List! This list is the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, and we are honoured to be included for an eighth consecutive year. The Growth List is produced by Canada’s premier business and current affairs media brands and ranks Canadian businesses on five-year revenue growth (2014-2019).

“It is an honour for Optimus SBR to once again be included on the Growth List,” says Kevin Gauci, Chief Executive Officer and Founder. “This achievement is another reflection of the resolve our employees and organization demonstrate in good times and in challenging times.”

“The companies on the 2020 Growth List are really exceptional. Their stories are a masterclass in how to survive when the economy throws a curveball. Despite turbulence, the 2020 Growth List companies showed resilience, spirit and, most importantly, empathy and strong leadership,” says Susan Grimbly, Growth List Editor. “As we celebrate over 30 years of the Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies program, it’s encouraging to see that the heart of Canada’s entrepreneurial community beats strong, even in tough times.”

For over 30 years, the Growth List ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies (formerly the Growth 500) has been Canada’s most respected and influential ranking of entrepreneurial achievement. Originally developed by PROFIT and now published in a special Growth List print issue of Canadian Business and online at and, the Growth List ranks Canadian companies on five-year. For more information on the ranking, visit online at Growth and

For more information, you can contact us anytime through our contact form or by emailing us at

The way customers bank is constantly evolving, but 2020 has seen one of the most dramatic shifts in customer behaviour that global Financial Institutions have ever experienced.

The impacts of COVID-19 have caused Financial Institutions to witness the rapid acceleration and adoption of their digital channels. While this shift is welcomed by the industry, it has nonetheless occurred faster than anticipated. These behavioural changes represent a unique opportunity for Financial Institutions globally to re-evaluate and re-position their product offerings in a manner that drives desired behaviours from their customers. Understanding customer behaviour is mission critical to effective product management. The goal of effective product management is to ensure that products remain relevant, competitive, and profitable in the current environment. This is where Product Optimization comes into play.

What is Product Optimization?

Product Optimization uses customer behaviour insights to assess product alignment to strategy and identify opportunities that will drive rapid bottom line impact. It also enhances service delivery and operational controls and is driven by three main levers:

    1. Effective Management of Products
    2. Reduction of Cost-to-Serve through the Improvement of Service Delivery
    3. Revenue Growth / Reduction of Revenue Leakage.

How Can Product Optimization Help?

The role of the Product Manager has never been more important and more difficult. With changing patterns of customer behaviour, existing product offerings may no longer be reflective of current customer needs. Product Optimization is designed to support Product Managers in their efforts to understand customer behaviour and tailor products to meet the current and future needs of your customers.

Product Optimization helps ensure that your product offering meets the needs of your customers in a cost-effective manner while remaining aligned to your Bank’s strategic objectives. Whether it be setting-up products to drive and sustain digital adoption, increasing revenue, reducing customer attrition, increasing your share of wallet, or a combination of these, Product Optimization can assist in achieving your goals. Any changes to your current product offering will not only have a lasting impact on how customers view your ability to meet their needs, but also must be considered in the broader context of the customer’s profitability, inclusive of cost-to-serve, to ensure sustainability.

A few key learnings to consider

If you are looking to optimize your products, consider the following key learnings:

  1. Everything is driven from the customer.

We cannot stress this one enough – without being able to understand customer behaviour changes and the reasons for their engagement (or lack thereof) with your products, you cannot ensure that you’re actively promoting and selling the “right” products. Understanding who your customers are, their transactional patterns, what your relative performance is in your segment, and what additional key metrics should be tracked on a go-forward basis is essential to managing your products.

The data collected through the Product Optimization review can also support the development of additional MIS and reporting including Customer Profitability analyses, over-the-counter migration tracking, and Retail branch network reporting.

  1. Make bold changes.

It’s not enough to make tweaks to existing products and follow in the steps of competitors. If you’re not focused on the optimization of products, you could be missing out on a competitive advantage or leaving dollars on the table.

With the increasing rate of change in financial services, institutions are facing challenges from the market as well as competition from both traditional competitors and emerging fintech companies who have the flexibility and agility to make larger scale changes in a rapid manner.

3. There’s no “wrong” time to engage in Product Optimization.

Optimization efforts can be focused in any of the following aspects or combinations thereof:

A Final Thought

Effective product management is no longer a nice to have, it’s key to driving the success of your business in this changing environment. Whether you’ve already started your Product Optimization journey or don’t know where to begin, we can support your team with everything from strategy through to sustainment of changes and help ensure that your products and their delivery reflect customer needs.

Our Product Optimization service offering is designed to supplement the capacity of resource constrained product management teams. We work alongside and directly with your Product Teams in order to enhance capabilities and ensure sustainment well after our team is gone. Our experience with these engagements is that they quickly pay for themselves and provide sustainable long-term benefits with a lasting impact on the bottom-line of our clients.


Optimus SBR’s Financial Services Practice

Optimus SBR is an independently owned management consulting firm that works with organizations across North America to get done what isn’t. Our Financial Services Group provides strategic advisory services, process improvement services, risk management services, and project management support to leading Financial Institutions, insurers, asset managers, and pension funds in North America. We have more than 35 years of industry experience in Retail Banking, Wholesale Banking, Institutional Banking, Small Business Banking, Corporate Services and Insurance.

If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call, or send us a note.

Carolyn Kingaby, Practice Leader, Financial Services

Peter Snelling, Senior Vice President, Business Development

Adam Parsons, Senior Manager, Financial Services

How do you solve a problem like corporate travel in the era of COVID-19? This is the question leaders have been grappling with since the early days of the pandemic. As opportunities for corporate travel gradually open around the world, and airlines move to reduce social distancing measures, organizations need to reassess how they re-launch critical corporate travel activities. This includes updating their understanding of the business case for travel, developing new travel policies that emphasize employee safety, and determining how to optimize travel expense in a dramatically altered supplier landscape. These are challenges that existed before the global shutdown, however they have been further complicated because of it. So, where does one begin?

Where are We? The Current Reality

While almost every sector of the economy has experienced dramatic effects of the pandemic, few have been hit as hard as the travel sector. COVID-19 brought business travel to a halt. As of March, 95% of all North American corporate travel had been cancelled or suspended, resulting in $27.6 billion in lost monthly revenues across the supply chain.[1] While strict travel restrictions are expected to ease over the coming months, suppressed levels of demand are anticipated to continue for the majority of 2021, at only 50% of 2019 volumes.[2]

In response, the travel supply chain has ramped up its focus on traveller health, safety, and education. However, corporate travel remains difficult for most organizations to contemplate. People, and the organizations they work for, have trouble gauging the risks associated with travel, to the point where approximately 60% of people would be unwilling to travel in any capacity over the next 3-6 months, according to a recent survey.[3]

It is not just that people don’t want to travel. COVID-19 has triggered an evolution on how we work and that people may not need to travel as much as they used to as corporate norms change. At this point, however it is anybody’s guess as to how permanent changes in corporate travel cultures will be. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and many other organizations outside of the tech sector have gone virtual in a way few would have imagined a few months ago. Many have extended work from home policies for most staff into 2021, which is also because of virtual meeting technologies that have reduced the need for travel.

While we expect corporate travel in North America to rebound, the ultimate question is when. What we do know however, is that corporate travel will not look or feel the same as it did before, and this new normal will reverberate for years to come.

Where are We Going? It’s Time to Rethink Corporate Travel

Just as travel suppliers are implementing new processes and protocols to rebuild demand, leaders need to rebuild the foundational policies that will guide future travel activities. How? By bringing the corporate travel conversation into the boardroom. Corporate travel has probably never had the attention it deserves, but that needs to change.

For organizations just starting the conversation around the future of corporate travel, or those yet to embark, there are a few important areas to consider in preparing for a different future:

1. Reconsidering the Business Case for Travel
The business case for travel will need to evolve substantially in most organizations, through a renewed emphasis on demand management and understanding what goes into it and adapting it to our current reality:

Demand Management Framework

Demand Management Framework

From assessing the value of travel, to the selection of the suppliers’ employees travel with, organizations will need to manage future travel demand by updating their business case and supporting policies to consider the key areas above, all while being more rigorous and considerate of the employee. Implementing policy revisions that reflect these concerns will require discussions and collaboration between the right internal (senior leadership, procurement leads, and travel managers) and external (travel management companies, consultants, and travel suppliers) stakeholders.

2. Compliance Under New Parameters
Once organizational guidelines around travel have been established, monitoring and enforcing them effectively becomes paramount. COVID-19 has raised the stakes for employee safety, and as such, a thoughtful approach to travel compliance has become even more essential. Enhanced pre-trip and post-trip compliance measures and the approach to managing unauthorized spending or out-of-policy bookings are just some of the key areas that will need to be adapted to fit a new set of travel guidelines. For those employees who are uncomfortable or unable or travel, organizations should identify and promote alterative solutions (e.g., virtual/hybrid meeting options) to accommodate them.

On the bright side, there are likely to be many benefits from all this effort on compliance: greater management of risk, controls, cost containment, as well as enhanced traveller safety and employee satisfaction.

3. Protecting your People
As employees adjust to a different future, accepting new or revised corporate travel guidelines may be a gradual process. Organizational leaders should plan to effectively manage a diverse set of preferences that employees will possess once corporate travel activities resume. Evidence suggests that before travelling, employees will want greater control over where they go and who they travel with. Destinations with greater access to healthcare and reputable travel brands with more rigorous safety protocols are expected to be the top drivers of acceptance.[4]

Once travelling, organizations should ensure that their people have all the necessary tools and public health resources available to them to help with physical and mental health, such as ‘on demand’ virtual healthcare.[5] Open communication forums for travellers to ask questions and provide comments – whether mid-trip or upon their return – are another way organizations can keep employees engaged and satisfied.

4. Travel Sourcing for a Different Future
Relationships between organizations and travel suppliers will be more important than ever, as new and existing partnerships may need to be re-evaluated for ‘fit’.[5] Organizations will need to reassess their existing standards for preferred travel suppliers and consider creating a ‘checklist’ to assess suppliers against these new standards. For example, the current environment may lend itself to an employee or company preference for higher-end suppliers, whose services go the extra mile to ensure enhanced levels of cleanliness and traveller comfort. Once preferred suppliers are reselected, organizations should then devise and deploy strategies that will direct travellers to them.

In addition, preferred travel supplier contracts, and how they are developed, should evolve in the new environment. Organizations may look to create additional flexibility in their supplier contracts based on new expectations. For instance, organizations may choose to limit risk exposure on minimum volume thresholds that may have existed previously. Overall, organizations will need to find new ways to balance the cost of upholding a higher standard of care, and the need for greater contractual flexibility for the safety and well-being of their employees.

A Final Thought

COVID-19 has changed the game for corporate travel. For organizations that have treated it as a cost centre to be managed and little more, the level and nature of decisions have changed, and it has become a mission-critical question for organizations who rely on travel to sell and deliver business. While information and directions are changing almost daily, leaders can start taking a critical look at what travel will look like in a post-COVID world. These conversations need to begin now so that organizations can be prepared to start solving a problem like corporate travel in the era of COVID-19.

Optimus SBR’s Travel Practice

Optimus SBR is an implementation-focused firm which supports a variety of clients across the broader travel supply chain from direct travel clients, to travel management companies and meetings & events companies. Our engagements focus on adding value to client organizations through solutions that are practical and implementable, allowing for the continuous generation of value, optimal operations, and high impact results. We offer a full range of strategy, operations, travel, and events and meetings consulting services, to help clients overcome challenges, and assess opportunities in a balanced and thoughtful manner, in support of reaching your economic and non-economic goals. Our work focuses on four core categories including; Strategy and Operations, Travel and Events Policy, Air/Hotel Sourcing and Program Management, and Outsourced and In-sourced Travel Services.

If you found this helpful, give us a call, or send us a note.


Brad Ferguson, SVP, Industries and Government Practice

James Lowe, Director



[1] Global Business Travel Association, 2020 Coronavirus Poll, April 2020

[2] Business Travel News, April 2020

[3] Traveling and Entertainment in 2020 Amid COVID-19,, May 2020

[4] SAP Concur: Global Business Traveler Report 2020

[5] Ultimate Guide to When Travel Returns, Travel and Transport Inc., 2020

For the second consecutive year, Optimus SBR is thrilled and honoured to be named on the 2020 list of Best Workplaces in Professional Services, and as one of this year’s Best Workplaces™ in Canada. This year, we’ve also been named to the inaugural list of Best Workplaces in Ontario.

The news of our placement on the lists of Best Workplace and the Top 50 Best Workplaces in Canada comes at a time when the world is in crisis. We are humbled to be recognized once again and will continue to focus on and grow our culture in order to continue to be one of Canada’s Best Workplaces.

Throughout the crisis, our mantra has been “working together, while staying apart”. Our culture is one of the cornerstones of our business, and now more than ever we are laser focused on keeping our culture at the forefront. During this time, even though we are apart, we want to ensure our team feels connected, supported, and encouraged. The happiness and engagement of our people is a direct correlation to our success. “We see ourselves as part of one large family and that is what makes us a great workplace. Our team of incredible people continue to believe in our vision of building a different kind of consulting firm, and has helped make us one of the Best Workplaces in Canada,” shares Kevin Gauci, CEO.

The Great Place to Work® Institute compiles the Best Workplace lists by gaining direct feedback from employees from the hundreds of organizations that are surveyed.

Best Workplace Professional Services

To be eligible for the Professional Services list, organizations must be Great Place to Work Certified™ in the past year, work primarily in the Professional Services Industry, and offer customized, knowledge-based services to clients.

Best Workplace in Ontario

To be eligible for this list, organizations must be Great Place to Work Certified™ in the past year, be headquartered in Ontario, and have at least 10 employees working in the province that participated in our Trust Index employee survey. Great Place to Work determined the best based on the overall Trust Index score from these employees.

Best Workplaces™ in Canada

The competition process for Best Workplaces Canada is based on two criteria: two-thirds of the total score comes from confidential employee survey results and the remaining one-third comes from an in-depth review of the organization’s culture. This offers a rigorous representation of the organization from an employee perspective, and an overall portrait of the workplace culture. Together, they provide crucial data relative to five trust-building dimensions: credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie.

This year’s list received over 400 registrations and over 80,000 employees participated in the 2020 “Best Workplaces™ in Canada” survey, rolling out to impact over 300,000 Canadian employees.

For more information please visit

As the world grapples with the impacts of COVID-19, financial institutions are being challenged unlike ever before. In this rapidly shifting operating environment, we’ve seen these institutions take swift action to support government programs, address client needs, and create an effective remote employee workforce. Addressing these needs required urgent and dramatic changes that will have long-lasting impacts.

As the dust has now begun to settle, and the requirement for urgent action lessens, there is a growing need for financial institutions to take a step back and undertake a review of the processes and related controls implemented in recent months. The aim is to ensure control gaps in recently implemented processes are identified and mitigated in the ‘new normal’ business as usual environment.

Driving Factors

The financial services industry has experienced a significant magnitude of change that has occurred in a very short period of time.  Three key driving factors of change stand out.

1. Enabling Government Relief Programs
As part of massive government intervention, several programs have been created to help support people and businesses in need. And for a number of these programs, the government has used the banking system as the approval and distribution network for this support. Banks were pushed to react rapidly as government programs were announced. Seemingly, and in some cases quite literally overnight, processes and technology enablers related to application, approval, distribution, monitoring and reporting were developed and implemented.

While the greatest possible care and diligence was taken to support these changes, they were quickly put in place and there is an opportunity to revisit the processes and related controls, and address additional risks that may not have been initially identified. Fraudulent applications, need for government reporting, and capital monitoring are just a few of the changes that are important examples.

2. A Swift Response to Addressing Client Needs
Alongside government intervention, financial institutions have been aggressively developing solutions to assist clients in these unprecedented times. Amidst organization-wide responses, we have seen two primary focus areas. Unsurprisingly, the first has been the easing of client’s financial commitments through payment deferrals on credit products. The second lies within the realm of providing substantially enhanced digital access to services.

In addressing these important needs, many new processes have been put in place across dozens of products and services. In a rush to better serve clients in a time of physical distancing, new digital access services have been established with record speed. While there is no question due diligence was taken during implementation, it is now time to revisit the policies, procedures, risk assessments, and control frameworks to assure management that risks are effectively mitigated.

3. Ensuring an Effective and Compliant Remote Workforce
The third big change in response to COVID-19 is the shift to Working From Home (WFH) for most employees. Prior to COVID-19, WFH was certainly an option for many employees, however there stood a long-held belief that certain categories of internal employees in financial institutions must perform their roles on premises. COVID-19 changed the status quo.

Previously held views around leadership, risk, compliance, culture, and access, that may have restricted WFH in the past, have now been turned upside down as entire on-site groups shifted to WFH overnight. In fact, despite the novelty and disruption, many have reported measurable improvements in productivity and there are signs over the long term, employees are going to want to increase the amount of time they spend working from home. With this significant shift in how and where people work, new controls need to be considered, and existing processes augmented to ensure the WFH workplace remains compliant and productive.

Why Review These Recently Put in Place Processes & Controls?

There is no question that well thought out processes and controls play a significant role in mitigating and managing risk. In the normal course of our work with North American financial institutions, we spend a lot of time assessing, developing, and enhancing process and control frameworks. This work is often related to processes and controls that were developed with great thought over long periods of time. However, in our experience, we consistently see:

In the business environment created by COVID-19, financial institutions have undertaken tremendous efforts to support their clients and employees. We do recognize that sound, ‘in the moment’, approaches to risk mitigation and control frameworks have been created along the way to secure the viability of our financial system. In fact, we believe that much can be learned from the lighter touch controls and monitoring that have proven effective.

However, as we look forward, there is a critical need for a serious second look at the processes and the preventative and detective controls put in place, as well as a review of the monitoring processes employed to ensure that the new and enhanced processes are effective and sustainable.

So, do the processes and controls implemented amid the demands of the COVID-19 crisis effectively mitigate risk? We recommend asking three key questions to determine the answer:

  1. Do we have the right balance of preventative vs. detective controls?
  2. What controls can/should we automate to better mitigate and monitor risk?
  3. Have management controls and escalation points been appropriately tested since implementation?

COVID-19 has thrust a massive amount of change onto financial institutions.  The impacts have highlighted the cracks in business continuity planning, have accelerated digitization by years, and transformed remote working.  With these changes, financial institutions are facing an increasingly complex risk environment and we believe the current crisis will act as a catalyst for regulators and financial institutions in reevaluating processes, controls, monitoring and oversight.

Optimus SBR’s Financial Services Practice

Optimus SBR is an implementation-focused firm that specializes in cross-functional experience in process redesign, controls, organizational alignment, strategy development, and project management. With over 150 consultants in our Financial Services Practice we bring deep experience across all sectors of the financial services industry.  Our responsive, execution-focused approach is valued by North America’s largest banks, insurers, asset managers and pension funds.

If you found this helpful, give us a call, or send us a note.

Carolyn Kingaby, Senior Vice President and Practice Lead

Peter Snelling, Senior Vice President

Bill Carrigan, Director

The Importance of Municipal Services

Public Works. Public Health. Transit. Emergency Services. Parks and Recreation. Housing. Economic Development. The list goes on. For many citizens, municipalities are where the rubber meets the road – figuratively and literally – more frequently than with any other level of government. Municipal services matter, and not just the ones that people see. The ones that keep things humming behind the scenes matter too. And never has that been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the pre-COVID era, municipalities had to balance the delivery of basic services with fiscal constraints arising from a limited range of revenue tools. And they had to do this while keeping an eye towards the future to support the needs, growth, and prosperity of their local communities. The right mix, level, and organization of services is different for every municipality, and striking that balance means stepping back and taking a strategic view. In the province of Ontario, for example, the Government has announced the Audit and Accountability Fund (AAF) and the Municipal Modernization Program which provide funding for Ontario municipalities to do just that. Many municipalities have already taken advantage of this funding and finished their review, some are ongoing, while others are just beginning the process. However, this exercise can be valuable for any municipality across Canada that is looking to modernize, reduce costs, or improve efficiency and effectiveness.

The Impacts of COVID-19

No matter where a municipality is in this review process, COVID-19 has changed the game. Municipalities are now grappling with emergency management, increasing demand for evolving essential services, rapid transitioning to digital service models, and supporting staff, communities, and businesses to stay safe and prepare for the recovery. Meanwhile, revenue is deferred and declining. In the process, many municipalities have demonstrated tremendous innovation and leadership. We have seen municipalities across Canada connect, engage, and support their citizens and communities in new ways as the pandemic impacts almost every facet of public life.

It will be important to both take stock of and make stick these positive changes in a post-COVID world. The pandemic has also put a spotlight on weaknesses that may have come as a surprise to many municipalities. It will be important to improve the things that did not work well during the pandemic to prepare for the new reality and long road to recovery in the “pandemic economy”.[1] The country will be travelling a bumpy road down the other side of the curve as it readies itself for potential subsequent spikes and waves of pandemic activity. Going forward it will be critical for all municipalities to reevaluate their priorities and reimagine what they do. Municipalities must be prepared to pivot their organizations while providing leadership during a period of great uncertainty.

Service delivery reviews must also benefit from the lessons municipalities have learned through months of responding to COVID-19. At Optimus SBR, we have been fortunate to work with a range of small and large municipalities on service delivery reviews before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and we have learned some important lessons along the way. Below we outline some considerations for municipalities as they proceed with a review, whether they are just entering the process or implementing changes coming out of one.

Rethinking Reviews to Reimagine Service Delivery Post-COVID

For municipalities about to embark on a service delivery review, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

1. Be Clear and Ambitious
What are you trying to achieve? The Government of Ontario has said municipalities can undertake different types of reviews, including “line-by-line” (read: cost reduction) and “effectiveness and efficiency” (read: doing things better) reviews, among others. Given this, you will want to be clear with the province, your Council, stakeholders, and the public on just what exactly this service delivery review is about. Objectives need to be clear, expectations need to be set, and tradeoffs will need to be made.

When setting these objectives, take stock of what has been possible during the pandemic and don’t be afraid to be ambitious. We have seen rapid change in several aspects of municipal operations and things that might have seemed impossible or out of reach before the pandemic may be more achievable in our post-COVID reality.

2. Prioritize Areas of Focus
Focus your efforts. Municipalities will likely find that they get more value out of a deeper and more focused review – concentrating on areas with the biggest impact, performance issues, resource intensity, and scope for improvement – than one that is broad but shallow. This will allow for a more thorough analysis and a clearer path forward where a broader review may only result in superficial change. When picking priorities, it will be important to consider how perceptions and expectations of essential services have changed during COVID-19, as well as whether some service models cracked under the pressure of the pandemic.

3. Communicate and Engage
COVID-19 has resulted in heightened anxiety levels for staff, stakeholders, and citizens who are looking for leadership, information, and reassurance. We have seen increased visibility of our municipal leaders during the pandemic as well as the rapid adoption of virtual tools and platforms for communication and engagement. These developments can and should be used to support Service Delivery Reviews to ensure that interested groups have a voice in making changes even in an era of physical distancing.

So principles of good engagement apply more strongly than ever. Get people’s input before ideas are fully (or even half) baked. Buy-in is stronger when people see their input shape changes, and as ever, the front-line and service recipients will typically know things that management does not. Taking advantage of this knowledge will be even more critical given that so much has happened in such as a short time.

4. Capitalize on Broader Organizational Benefits
While these reviews are a great way to identify improvements and prioritize opportunities, they also bring other benefits. Some municipal organizations have struggled to maintain employee engagement during the pandemic and Service Delivery Reviews provide an opportunity to engage teams and make workplace cultures more resilient to change and focused on continuous improvement. They can also help build internal capacity to improve services and act as a window for high performers and future leaders to shine.

Pivoting Implementation of Service Delivery Reviews Post-COVID

For the municipal reviews that started and finished before the pandemic or were interrupted mid-stream, the state of the world and thus priorities have changed. While you likely have several opportunities to move forward with and want to benefit from all the work done for the review, you may be unsure how to move forward in this new environment. Here are a few ways to think about pivoting on implementation given the new realities of COVID:

1. Pause to Reassess Priorities and Incorporate Lessons Learned
It is important to pause and reassess whether the transformation priorities you set pre-COVID are still relevant, consider how your organization and operating models have changed, and how the needs of your citizens and communities have evolved. This does not mean starting from scratch, but it does mean making sure you are prioritizing things that will help respond to COVID pressure and make innovations and improvements from the last few months stick.

2. Making Progress on Implementation During COVID
Getting moving on quick wins, especially ones that respond to pressures and challenges related to COVID, will help build trust and credibility with stakeholders and build positive momentum that will be invaluable as you tackle the larger, more complex strategic initiatives.
At the same time, it is easy to underestimate how much effort it will take to get things done – transformation cannot be done off the side of someone’s desk. We have seen massive redeployment of resources to respond to COVID and it will be critical that, as “business as usual” activities resume, transformation efforts are supported with the right resources – people, tools, and technology – along with the project management capacity to ensure things keep moving on time and budget.

Finally – we can’t say it enough – communication and engagement will continue to be essential during COVID to build understanding and support as well as ensure ongoing connectedness as transformation activities move forward.

3. Investing Scarce Resources to Achieve Clear Outcomes
COVID-19 is having large financial impacts on municipalities and more pressure is expected as we move into recovery mode. In an environment of fiscal uncertainty, it is critical to be clear about investment requirements and ensure they are tied to meaningful outcomes, whether they are service improvements, savings or both. To enable investment, needs must be clearly communicated and tied to tangible and measurable impacts to demonstrate return on those hard-earned taxpayer dollars.


As municipalities continue to respond to the pandemic and prepare for our new post-COVID reality it will be essential to pause, reassess, and pivot. The province’s funding for service delivery reviews is a unique opportunity to do just that and can be helpful no matter where a municipality is on its modernization journey.

Optimus SBR’s Municipal Practice

Optimus SBR is an implementation-focused firm that specializes in turning policy into action. Our Municipal Practice, part of our broader Industries and Government Practice, has conducted a range of engagements for municipalities covering frontline and back-office services, transportation and transit, social services, public works, emergency services, public health, long-term care, community and economic development, and numerous others.

If you found this helpful, give us a call, or send us a note.

Brad Ferguson, SVP, Industries and Government Practice

David Lynch, Principal

Michelle Lenarduzzi, Senior Manager



[1] For an accessible and helpful overview of what this could look like, see Gans, Joshua (2020). Economics in the Age of COVID-19. Cambridge: MIT Press. Open access version available at

At Optimus SBR, putting people first is part of our DNA. We are committed to the health and well-being of our clients, employees, and community. Following the guidelines set out by all levels of the Canadian government, last week we transitioned our Toronto office to virtual.  As a dynamic and nimble organization, we’ve made a swift transition, and are dedicated to working with our clients to see them through these uncertain times. While there’s no doubt that challenges lie ahead, by continuing to prioritize people, we are confident in our ability to keep delivering game-changing results for our clients… even if it’s from the kitchen table! Our business was built working with organizations through tough challenges, and now is no exception.

In a time like this, we’d like to take a moment to thank the first responders and healthcare professionals looking after the health and well-being of our communities. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, administrative and cleaning personnel, researchers, and all others in the healthcare field for your hard work and commitment. We’d also like to express deep appreciation for all the individuals working to ensure there is little disruption in our food supply, infrastructure, security, and other essential services. We salute your efforts!

If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that we’re all in this together. We encourage everyone to practice social distancing, and do their part to flatten the curve.

Celebrating Another Achievement

We are excited to announce we placed No. 168 on the inaugural Report on Business ranking of Canada’s Top Growing Companies for 2019. This marks our second growth award in 2019, having been ranked to the Growth 500 earlier this month for the seventh consecutive year.  The list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies aims to celebrate entrepreneurial achievement by identifying and amplifying the success of growth-minded, independent businesses in Canada.

Canada’s Top Growing Companies ranked Canadian companies based on three-years of revenue growth. Optimus SBR earned its spot on the list of Top Growing Companies with three-year growth of 212%! “This is such an honour for everyone at Optimus SBR and we are very proud of this achievement,” says Kevin Gauci, CEO Optimus SBR.

“We created Canada’s Top Growing Companies program because we believe there is much Report on Business readers can learn from the successes of the country’s best entrepreneurs,” says Derek DeCloet, Editor of Report on Business and Executive Editor at The Globe and Mail. “We’re excited to be telling their stories.”

“The 400 companies on the inaugural Report on Business ranking of Canada’s Top Growing Companies ranking demonstrate ambition, innovation and tremendous business acumen,” says Phillip Crawley, Publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail. “Their contributions to the economy help to make Canada a better place, and warrant commendation.”

The full list of 2019 winners, and accompanying editorial coverage, is published in the October issue of Report on Business magazine—out now—and online at


About The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s foremost news media company, leading the national discussion and causing policy change through brave and independent journalism since 1844. With the award-winning coverage of business, politics and national affairs, The Globe and Mail newspaper reaches 6.6 million readers every week. The Report on Business magazine reaches 1.8 million readers in print and digital every issue. Their investment in innovative data science means that as the world continues to change, so does The Globe. The Globe and Mail is owned by Woodbridge, the investment arm of the Thomson family.


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