Have you ever wondered how Santa organises all of the letters that are sent to him? Or how the production line within his workshop reduces risk? How about how such high quality is maintained?
The Next Generation Network Steering Committee members Rachelle Briggs, Lee Wood, Amanda Pinkney and Hannah Murfet audited Santa’s Workshop and reported their findings.
How are orders received?
Orders, referred internally as letters, are typically received via post however some are sent via email or wishing upon a star.
Letters will be accepted from 1st December until 24th December each year.
Letter from Harry (aged 6) received 1/12/2015
Email from Richard (aged 10) received 1/12/2015
Wish from Claire (aged 7) received 1/12/2015
What checks are carried out on a received letter?
All letters undergo initial check against Naughty or Nice list, document reference SANTA.0001. Where the customer is on the Nice list the letter is stamped as such and progresses through to next department. Where the customers are on the Naughty list the letter is disposed of.
Letter from Harry – seen to be on nice list, generally good
How is the Naughty or Nice List updated?
List is updated each year on December 1st by Santa Magic. The list considers the behaviour of the customer over the year.
Using a point based system if the customer is equal or above 0 the customer is allocated as nice, below 0, naughty.
Points are defined for all customer actions i.e. Compete monthly reports on time: +6
Improvement project carried out: +9
Not reading Quality World: -12
Recommendation for improvement:
There has been no validation of Naughty or Nice systems. To ensure accurate information is being used the company may wish to develop a validation protocol to include this system.
How are orders processed?
Once customer has been determined as Nice the letter can be processed.
Name and delivery address are entered onto the present processing system and an order number allocated.
Items on the letter are checked against the Gift database and relevant code selected.
Elves ensure all information such as size and colour is checked and correct code chosen.
Once the item is selected the system Christmas Joy points are allocated.
One customer may have no more than100 Christmas Joy points for any one year.
Items are entered from the top of the letter, any item on the letter after 100 Christmas Joy points have been allocated will not be included in the delivery.
The database is updated each year on 1st December and is purely physical goods.
Where the item requested is not in the database it will be crossed off the letter as the Workshop is considered unable to deliver.
Letter from Harry – Order 8269173 Item 1. Dr Deming Teddy Bear, brown – code 5726916, 30 Christmas Joy points
Item 2. Voucher for CQI Training course – code 1746273 70 NA Christmas Joy points
Item 3. Completed application for CQI membership – not on database, customer is unable to order this item as must be completed by customer only.
How are amendments to orders handled?
Where an order is already found in the system for that year the relevant second letter is discarded in accordance with Santa terms and conditions which state only one list per customer per year. This is communicated to all customers each year throughout November.
Are the relevant procedures available to all elves?
Rudy the elf demonstrated access to procedures via Santa Workshop Intranet.
Have all elves been trained?
All elves are trained in Quality, HSE and Christmas Magic upon induction.
All elves undergo training in relevant roles prior to Christmas.
Evidence seen: Sparkle the elf, Naughty or Nice list Checker
Induction Form, document reference SANTA.0056 completed and signed 1/10/2015
Perky the elf, Letter processor Induction Form, document reference SANTA.0056 completed and signed 1/10/2015
This part of the report focuses on production within Santa’s Workshop.
After orders have been received and job cards raised, the work goes onto the shop floor. The job cards detail each step in the process and elves have to sign off against the steps once they have been completed.
Santa’s Workshop produces toys for the international market. They have a huge research team ensuring the products they manufacture are current and safe for use. Speaking with Bernard the Elf – Factory Manager, Santa’s Workshop has identified the ‘must have toy of the year’ as Dr Deming, the Quality Teddy Bear. Bernard informed me that Santa believes in having a robust quality process from start to finish, and showed me FMEA documentation that is used to investigate product design, and take action to mitigate the risks within the process. Many organisations use FMEA to prepare for any potential risk, and adopt a proactive approach to control it. Santa’s Workshop is no different, and with the impending switch to ISO 9001:2015, they have cho-ho–ho-sen to place more emphasis risk.
Raw materials are purchased from a naughty or nice list of approved suppliers. The auditor observed stuffing for teddy bears was purchased from a company in Japan that has won awards for their quality. Raw materials must be tested and approved prior to use by Buddy the Quality Manager elf, as detailed in SOP 90-0.
Operations are performed to Standard Operating Procedures, of which there are 99705. All elves are trained against these and the auditor noted evidence within the workshop of the elves competencies against the procedures. All are recorded on controlled forms and reviewed yearly during the quieter months at the start of the year.
The auditor moved onto the production line and observed a process flow for the Deming teddy bear whilst it was being made. All processes are controlled and targets are being met. There were no identified failures within the process.
Processes within Santa’s Workshop are controlled and reviewed bi-annually by Buddy the Quality Manager elf. He showed me the process flow for the Deming Teddy Bear which had highlighted all delays and bottle-necks.
At Santa’s Workshop they agree that if a toy takes up more than 10% of total production then further measures are taken to ensure there is no failure. These toys have FMEA, process maps and control plans, along with inspection logs for critical points in the process. All toys there is a contingency plan for if a failure was to happen for materials, machines, and during production.
Santa is very proud of the rigorous 5S project within the workshop, with monthly audits being taken to ensure continuous improvement. Although the auditor did note that that there were unwashed plates in the canteen with half eaten mince pies on them. When asked about this Santa looked rather sheepish.
Overall, the efficiency and practices of Santa’s Workshop are fantastic, and the auditor echoed his thanks for everybody involved.
Written by Lee Wood PCQI, Web and Social Media Officer
This audit focused on the Quality assurance and control measures in place at Santa’s workshop. Since the last audit review by the Next Generation Network audit team, there has been a significant ramp-up in workload and toy demand. This had been predicated and is monitored on an annual basis via the Department of Global Environmental Monitoring team. The non-conformities, observations and suggestions for continuous improvements in Quality Control have been taken on board and enthusiastically actioned by the Elves.
Standards and Policies audited
ISO 9001:2015 “SANTA.XXXXXX” Internal procedures (relating to QC/QA specifically)
The audit started in Santa’s Workshop focusing on the making of individual toy parts then moved through to compilation of these parts on the assembly lines and finally onto the completed toy. Worksheet order 0507122515, customer Sarah Jane for a Dr .Deming teddy bear was vertically audited for Quality Control.
Emberfir, an experienced assembly line Elf, explained the process of checking all the orders on the Nice list. All the good boys and all the good girls Christmas wishes are directly entered onto the toy system and the sub-orders for the component toy parts are printed out on uniquely identified worksheets. These worksheets are delivered by Christmas Fairies to those elves responsible for that activity.
OBS 1There is a huge variation in the production of worksheets for each toy and as an way of improvement Santa has employed additional workers - Christmas Fairies – to supplement the smooth running of the uniquely identified worksheet distribution.
Raw materials are checked for compliance prior to sub-assembly and final assembly. Clove, the Elf responsible for materials compliance testing, explained that her job was to ensure that the stuffing and the cloth material of the Dr. Deming teddy bear are compliance tested for aesthetics and durability such as softness, squishiness, accidental spills and endurance in the washing machine. The particular bear in question was observed passing various tests and these were fully documented in local workbooks.
Once the raw materials had passed inspection the sub-parts of the teddy bear i.e. legs, arms, body and head were produced. Shimmer, a Quality Inspection Officer was observed spot checking 10% of all the production of sub-parts to ensure the specification of teddy bears met SANTA 66772 internal operating procedure standards. A candy-cane sticker was stuck onto all parts that were compliant and sent onwards to the next stage. Sub-parts failing inspection were given a black sticker and removed from production. Shimmer explained how each defect is logged and an investigation is conducted to resolve any variations.
OBS 2It was noted that some lighter coloured stickers were used alongside the black ones. Shimmer explained that a new member of staff had suggested darker stickers are not obvious on the bear’s fur. It made it difficult to identify defect parts. As a consequence, some defect parts had made it into assembly. A trial was being conducted to see whether this improvement would halt the errors.
The sub-parts were then lovingly assembled on the line by worker Elves, where the final touch was a sprinkle of Christmas wishes to bring a sparkle to the bear’s glass eyes. A final inspection was conducted by Mr. Frost the Senior Quality Inspection Officer.
Merry the Deputy Quality Manager obligingly provided documentation of the statistical process control charts to demonstrate the variance in compliance testing and final assembly checks and inspections. Due to the acceptance of defect parts, there were some out of control points. However, appropriate investigations were conducted and product recalls issued. Due to the careful monitoring of the charts, no defect Dr. Deming teddy bears had been released to Santa’s Sleigh.
Overall, this was a positive audit and clear compliance against internal SANTA procedures and ISO 9001. It is encouraging that improvements in processes are activity reported and investigated.
Amanda Pinkney CQP MCQI, NGN Communication Officer
This part of the report covers the distribution practices followed by Santa’s Workshop. The auditor interviewed Santa Claus, Managing Director of Santa’s workshop who described the quality control practices followed prior to distribution. Santa described that he makes a list, and then checks it twice, to confirm who is naughty or nice. The auditor was pleased to observe that checking practices were in place, but recommends an independent review may help ensure greater accuracy.
Once Quality Control has been completed, presents are loaded into sacks at the end of production by a team of elves. Quality Control practices were seen to be stringent and limited waste was observed. The elves have recently been implementing a number of quality improvement activities through a voluntary Quality Circles group. The Quality Circles group have the support of Managing Director to meet regularly to identify and implement process improvements throughout the supply chain. An example process improvement is described in the following paragraph.
The filled sacks are placed into a reindeer-driven sleigh, it was noted that some proprietary technology was used to allow the sleigh to become airborne and travel at exceptional speed. There are nine reindeer employed for distribution by Santa’s Workshop. The most recent reindeer employee, Rudolph, was interviewed who described one of their recent process improvements. The process improvement made use of Rudolph’s bright shiny nose to help with deliveries in foggy conditions. Going forward the auditor recommends reviewing if other reindeers could be employed with shiny noses to provide additional process control.
For a number of years the main present delivery mechanism was via the chimney. Internal audits have raised a number of non-conformities in deviations from standard delivery procedures. The two main non-conformities have been focussed around the decreasing ability of Santa being able to fit through the chimney and process deviations due to a lack of chimneys in modern properties. The root cause of the former has been cited on household practices of providing items such brandy and mince pies for consumption. The corrective actions have not been completed in a timely manner and therefore the auditor will be raising this as a minor non-conformity.
Santa’s Workshop monitors a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are reviewed annually by the Managing Director and Ms. Claus, Chief Quality Officer, along with other senior representatives from the elf and reindeer teams. The reports available for on time delivery show very strong performance, especially given the logistical challenge of delivering presents across the world in a narrow time frame. The right first time statistics show a high proportion of right first time deliveries against the requirements of delivering only to nice children, matching wish list items and the bringing of festive joy. A number of customer complaints have been raised for not all presents from the wish list being received. While Santa’s workshop must manage customer expectations, the auditor recommends implementing new metrics on On-Time In-Full data to proactively track this.
Overall good distribution practices were observed by Santa’s Workshop with strong leadership for quality. The auditor would like to thank all auditees for their time and assistance in this audit.
Happy Christmas everyone!
Hannah Murfet CQP MCQI, NGN Vice Chair and Advisory Council Representative