Improving Flow through Integration in Santa’s Workshop: A Fictional Case Study

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This weekend, I was watching the movie Elf and it got me thinking – how does Santa’s Workshop keep up with the demands of a booming population? I saw the manager keeping track of production quotas on a clipboard. There’s a single magical book that contains what everyone wants for Christmas, but it’s unclear how this information is shared with the teams responsible for production and delivery. Is it time for a digital transformation at the North Pole? What would that even look like? 

I knew that if I wanted to figure out how to improve the flow of value through Santa’s Workshop I would need a visual. So I started where most of Tasktop’s customers do – with a Value Stream Architecture Consulting session. I sat down with one of our Value Stream Architects to discuss what’s flowing through Santa’s Workshop and how we could eliminate waste in their value stream through integration.

Santa’s Workshop Value Stream Architecture Diagram

Rather than the traditional repositories and artifacts we see in software delivery value streams, the toolchain in Santa’s Workshop would be made of custom-built solutions with work items specific to what’s being produced at the workshop. As you can see in the Ideate section, multiple types of requests are gathered in the Wish List system. A business analyst would then review these requests and turn them into valid requirements, running them through the Checking It Twice system to validate against the naughty or nice list before they are added to the Workshop backlog. 

The toymakers, similar to the developers in a software value stream, would build from these requirements and send to Quality Control for testing. Depending on the type of toy and its requirements, a number of tests would be run (in some cases requiring approval from Mrs. Claus) before they are added to the release pipeline or sent back to the workshop to be fixed.

Jack In The Box Elf GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

In the Operate section, instead of your traditional helpdesk tools, we see the Misfit Toys. These, we imagine, are similar to technical debt, often overlooked until a real leader like Rudolph shines some light on them. 

There was a lot of debate about what exactly the release pipeline would look like, but in the end we decided that this was probably such a closely-guarded secret that they wouldn’t be willing to share.

Improved Flow Through Integration

With all of these stages integrated, Santa’s Workshop would reduce significant amounts of waste in their value stream and achieve the speed needed to keep up with the demands of the modern world. Some of the benefits would include:

  • Capacity planning. Having all of the requests in a single system, broken down by type allows management to ensure that they have the appropriate number of specialists allocated to the different teams. This might mean increasing the number of analysts on the text request team while reducing those dedicated to handwritten letters or reallocating toymakers from the traditional toys team to the video games team.
  • Eliminate wasted effort. Having the Checking It Twice system verify all requests before having them added to the backlog keeps the toymakers from wasting time working on toys for kids on the naughty list.
  • Requirements traceability. The toymakers and testers can work from the clearly stated requirements so they can ensure that what they produce satisfies the customer while adhering to any relevant regulatory requirements.
  • Improved happiness. Given the unique labor force, it’s hard to imagine Santa’s Workshop having high employee turnover. However, the clarity and reduced waste that comes from a connected value stream has been shown to improve employee happiness. One Tasktop customer saw a 22% increase in employee engagement after they integrated the tools used by their developers and testers.

These are just some of the benefits of a connected value stream. While Tasktop can’t really connect the fictional systems in Santa’s Workshop, we can provide integration for nearly 60 of the best-of-breed tools used in planning, building and delivering software at a scale to accelerate your product delivery.

If you want to learn how you can connect, visualize and measure the work that flows through your software delivery value stream, sign up for a Value Stream Architecture Consulting session today.