by Kai Andrews

Challenge

Few realize that Santa has a surveillance and intelligence gathering network that rivals the CIA and Mi6.  The code name for this program is SKOOP – “Sorting Kids on Observed Performance.”  This program has hundreds of thousands of operatives around the world and continues to expand each year.  Recently, the Director of SKOOP had North Pole procurement reach out to Point B to help solve problems related to explosive growth.  The Point B team quickly zeroed in on three areas of focus and examined how processes and workstyles needed to change.

Information gathering

Shelf elves are required to provide feedback on all children in their household on a nightly basis.  Originally this was done by emailing forms back to a central team that then collated each form with the “GoB” (good or bad) database.  This was simply not a scalable solution.  Given that Santa had Office 365 in place, Point B developed a SharePoint-based solution that allowed each elf to use a mobile app to submit information directly to one data list.  The list uses metadata to tag the feedback to the appropriate child and a PowerApps solution feeds status changes directly to the supply chain system.

Knowledge management

“Being a shelf elf is dangerous business.  Pets, fireplaces and toddlers are the bane of our existence,” says veteran operative Pepper Mint.  To combat these workplace hazards, Santa’s HR department compiles feedback from the community and updates formal policies and procedures (best places to sit, fire retardant clothing options and so on) on a regular basis.  These documents used to be stored on file shares and emailed on a monthly basis.  Version control was rampant and elves were not getting timely information.  Point B developed a wiki solution that was updated in real time.  The result was one source of truth with automated alerts to all field elves – the result, errant candle burns are down 80%.

Fostering community

Point B’s cultural assessment highlighted that elves are naturally social creatures.  Being a shelf elf is inherently a lonely endeavor and job satisfaction ratings were trending downwards as a result.  Point B identified the need for a workplace community that would connect this remote workforce.  Leveraging Office 365’s recently enhanced Groups functionality, the engagement team created virtual gathering places where elves could post pictures of their experiences and share activities on the newly integrated SharePoint sites.  

Results

These solutions were seen as real game changers.  Since they were implemented, job satisfaction is up by 40 points, feedback gathering volume is up 64% and HR is finally focusing on value-add services instead of managing emails!  Santa could not be jollier about the outcome.