Why even Santa needs a hand from Process Mining

For a bit of fun, we take a look at what a Process Mining scenario might look like for Santa – to give him the insight to enable him to make the right decisions to get where he needs to, on time and with presents in tow.


Why Santa needs Process Mining

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The classic ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ poem by Clement Clarke Moore has a predictably happy outcome. But in these ‘unprecedented times’ things may not be running as smoothly as usual at the Elf Toy Factory.

After all, the elves are largely still in isolation at home and the factory isn’t working at its usual capacity. The reindeer have added some serious COVID kilos and take-off capability is in question. But there are some other things afoot that Santa needs to see, but currently can’t.

Santa’s first attempt at using Arkturus Process Mining unearthed a few areas for cost saving, some issues in his supply chain and problems at the factory.

Santa cost cutting!?

For a start, the budget for this Christmas isn’t what it could be.  Mrs Claus has been working overtime to crunch the numbers but unless 10% savings can be found, presents will have to be cut. Santa started the season with a long hard look at the processes in play.  He concluded there was a lot of double handling in present wrapping, adding significantly to the cost of each gift. 

In modelling a couple of different variations, Santa was able to identify a way to streamline the wrapping process to take half the time and 25% less paper and sellotape.  It achieved very close to the 10% savings needed.  A couple of tweaks in other areas and Santa put a tick against cost-savings in the checklist.

Backlogs and loop-backs

It was through this process he realised the entire supply chain wasn’t performing as it should be.  There are significant backlogs of orders that are running late and an equal number of deliveries have been made to the North Pole that aren’t correct.  This has caused some serious loop-backs with additional costs and delays, that an already under-stress factory is scrambling to cover. 

A little bit of a deep dive into the orders (something Santa can do without coding) and it is easy to see the errors come down to an elf who is new to the job.  He didn’t go through the usual training due to lockdown and that is starting to show.  Santa quickly puts him under the supervision of a senior elf and the situation is resolved.

Staffing issues

Next, he spots a back-up in the ‘Naughty or Nice’ reports.  Lockdown has played havoc with getting these in on time.  Santa does a quick modelling, applying an increased number of elves to assist with the backlog.  As the numbers of elves increase, the timeline diminishes, until Santa arrives at an acceptable margin of error with ten elves. 

However, removing this number of elves from other activities creates a whole raft of new issues right across the factory – including not getting the sleigh loaded in time. 

Another option is required.  So, fairies are recruited to fill the ‘nice’ vacancies and equilibrium is restored.  Santa can see from the modelling it will be tight but doable. Again, Santa has been able to do all of this without coding.

Timeline to Christmas under threat

While it is usually a push to get everything out on the night, Santa can now see that at current pace, they’re not going to make it. The delay in getting some stock plus the backlog in assigning goods to stockings, has created an unacceptable overrun.  Further process mining is required to work out how this might be resolved. 

Isolating the ‘happy path’ for goods that are currently available has identified stockings that could be packed now – well ahead of time.  Leaving an ample timeline for the late runners to arrive and be packed for the remaining orders.

Santa pushes back from the laptop and puts his glasses on his head, rubbing his eyes.  Arkturus Process Mining has helped cut costs and solve most of his problems – giving him a lot more confidence he can pull this Christmas off.  However, getting the reindeer to exercise is one issue process mining can’t solve and where his attention is now directed. 

He has however, written a new verse to the poem:

Despite the dark depths of COVID, no need to despair,

Arkturus has put real hope in the air;

Process mining’s the answer, said Santa with a smile,

We now know what to do, to deliver in style.

The end. (But, if you would like to understand a bit more about how Arkturus process mining could make your Christmases come early, drop us your wish list, now.)