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A Process Mining Carol: How Christmas Found Its Efficiency (+Infographics)

  • Process Improvement
  • December 12, 2019

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A Process Mining Carol How Christmas Found Its Efficiency Cover2

How does Process Mining help the busy North Pole Chief Operations Officer improve Christmas processes?

Wood crackling in the fireplace, jolly tree lights cutting through nightfall, mistletoe and stockings hanging all over the place. That special time of year has finally come.

No anxiety from unfinished projects, open deadlines, missed business flights. Just the peace of a silent night encircling your house.

Yet, there is someone whose thoughts race in a different direction.

Chief Operations Officer of Christmas

For that someone, Christmas is the most stressful day of the year. That someone needs to make sure every action fits the second, nothing falls apart, everything is delivered on time.

And no, it's not Santa.

We're talking about his Chief Operations Officer, Mrs. Claus. The lady overseeing all the processes of the operation codenamed “Fast & Jollious”.

A few weeks ago, we managed to get her on the phone and ask her, how in the name of Rudolph, she manages it all.

Here's what she had to say.

A Process Mining Carol- How Christmas Found Its Efficiency Infographics2

Process Mining Is Comin' to Town

“I must honestly say how surprised I was to discover how inefficient some of our processes were, be it letter receiving and assigning, toys manufacturing, or distribution. I mean, they were okay-ish, working fine,” says Mrs. Claus. “But the potential I spotted in the process map knocked my striped socks off.”

Let's be honest here – unsurprisingly, such a piece of information was priceless for us. Who wouldn't want to find out that the Clauses are using the technology you've been developing, right?

We simply had to dig deeper.

Eventually, we spent more than an hour skyping with Mrs. Claus, making notes and sipping hot cocoa stuffed with marshmallows.

How can Process Mining help your company? Read 4 success stories and get inspired! Download here

4 Cases Where Santa's COO Applied Process Mining

Polish your sleighs, feed the reindeer, tune in jolly Christmas carols, and learn how the executives from the North Pole employed Process Mining to make their operations smoother.

1. Letter Processing

“You wouldn't believe it, but some kids are still sending letters the old-fashioned way – via snail mail,” Mrs. Claus explains.

When Santa's team receives the letters, both via post as well as electronically, they need to check the address, the toy the kid wants for Christmas, and cross-reference them with the Good/Naughty List.

“What we found out, thanks to Process Mining,” Mrs. Claus continues, “is that some of these activities can be easily automated through Robotic Process Automation. Checking the address, searching for keywords, and distributing the letters based on the Good/Naughty List is a piece of cake for a bot.”

In numbers
34 min 17 sec per letter without RPA 
2 min 40 sec per letter with RPA and OCR

2. Toy Assignment

If the kid ended up on the Good List, Santa needs to decide whether the toy is in stock, and if the elves are going to manufacture it or a similar toy will be sent to the kid.

“The Case Duration Influencer showed what influences different categories and regional nuances have on Santa's decision process. And as unwilling as I am to admit it, Santa represents a bottleneck in this stage. It takes him ages to decide, as he weighs in all the possibilities and truly thinks about the best approach.” 

The solution? 

“In the more complex cases, I stepped in, and started making some of the decisions, too,” Mrs Claus admits.

In numbers
Average time spent on a decision per case: 3 hours 02 minutes 12 seconds
After Mrs Claus stepped-in: 1 hour 43 minutes 13 seconds

3. Toy Manufacturing

With a great amount of resources, both financial as well as human, manufacturing must run as smoothly as Santa coming down the chimney.

“The process map helped us discover all the variants in our manufacturing processes, many truly unnecessary. Thanks to that, we managed to reduce the variants, and thus get closer to the happy path.”

Apart from the happy path, additional process inefficiency was identified - process rework. 

The thing is, in the rush up to Christmas, not all toys are checked properly and during packaging, elves have often found faults. “We had to go back and either fix the issue or manufacture a new toy,” Mrs. Claus complains. “You can imagine how costly that can become.”

This year, the team has deployed IoT sensors and several QA controls. “Getting information on rework and quality issues soon enough will eliminate costs and bottlenecks.”

With the Dashboards functionality, the COO was also able to continuously refresh data and monitor the execution of the whole manufacturing process and immediately react to any deviations.

In numbers
Potential annual savings: ~$350K thanks to elimination of unnecessary variants
Savings thanks to rework elimination: ~$490K

4. Continuous Improvement

At first sight, it might seem that Santa's workshop has no problem with competition. But the evolution of technology and the world around is so fast that he and the team need to think deeply about how to stay ahead. 

“We must get better every year, following the latest trends, while continuously improving our operations.” So, after Christmas and enough time to rest, the COO sits down with Santa and executive elves to check the numbers and analyze the overall performance and potential space for improvement.

Process simulation within the Process Mining solution help us check the potential improvements before implementing them to the next Christmas cycle,” Mrs. Claus concludes. “Only that way can we drive better business decisions at every level, based on hard data, not guesses.”

An example? The team simulated adding a new R&D team in Russia, with Mrazik as the team lead, to help with manufacturing of more complex robotic toys.

In numbers
R&D added 1 day to the process but saved 12 hours in the manufacturing process
Money saved from eliminating rework in toy manufacturing will be used to employ the team

Following Mrs. Claus in the Process Hero Path

Candidates for RPA, bottleneck and rework identification, and continuous improvement are the low-hanging benefits of Process Mining for every company. Even yours.

Or do you want to stay behind when even a centuries-old toymaker embraces the technology of today?

Whichever option you're leaning towards, first we encourage you to take a break during the upcoming weeks and enjoy this precious holiday with your family and close ones. Because that's what matters most.

We wish you a truly Merry Christmas!

(Disclaimer – just in case: Even though we wished this all was true and Rudolph really flew over our heads during that magical Christmas Eve, this post is, sadly, a piece of fiction.)

Picture of Michal Tomek

Written by Michal Tomek

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