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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

Christmas S&OP: Santa & Opening Presents

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Dec 08, 2021

“Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh…”

How many of you started to sing those lines? Yes, the festive period is fast approaching and the biggest and best supply chain in the world is almost ready to activate. This is always the most efficient supply chain whatever those nice people at Gartner may say.

There is no way Santa Claus could achieve annual success without sticking rigidly to an S&OP process, i.e. Santa & Opening Presents.

The process starts every year on the 26th December just as the children start to play with the empty packaging instead of their much sought after gifts. Their engorged parents lounge sleepily in front of the television watching The Great Escape or Jason & the Argonauts – again! Santa's loyal Elves are given their end of season bonus and sent  back to Eleveden Forest in Suffolk. Didn’t you know that is where they live for most of the year?

Before January is over those lovely people who design toys and games quickly introduce new and more exiting models which will become must-haves for countless girls and boys. When toy shops are visited, billions of children quietly note those presents they would like Santa to bring them in December. 

The excitement slowly builds until it is time to bring the Elves back from Suffolk on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The first job for the Elves is to get the enormous global Christmas factory ready to run once again. 

With all of the usual meetings and flow of information, perhaps their S&OP would look something like this:


In parallel with the factory start-up, billions of children around the world unzip their pencil cases with gusto. Using their best handwriting they tell Santa how well they have behaved this year and then list all the presents they would like to receive. This unconstrained demand is then accumulated to allow the Elf factory to create production plans to meet a service deadline that is set in stone. Is there a peakier peak, peak period in the year?

Money does not grow on trees so 'Santa' must quickly check what can be afforded from the available budget. Remember, the wish lists are always too long and you do not want nor can afford 100% Customer Service  – keep them hungry, I say. After some discussion the Pre-S&OP takes place with all stakeholders involved to ensure everything is ready to go. You want to avoid stock-outs just as much as you need to avoid expensive write-offs.

After necessary adjustments are made to the planned volumes by SKU, the final S&OP takes place. Bearded Santa is fully dressed in his best red uniform and takes his seat at the top of the table. If Pre-S&OP actions have not been carried out, then there is unlikely to be much “Yo, Ho Ho-ing”. Fortunately, everyone is in agreement and the final set of child and associated gift numbers is rubber-stamped. Everyone involved in the Christmas S&OP must operate on the same set of numbers or somebody will be disappointed.

The big day finally arrives and Rudolph leads the reindeers in pulling the delivery sleigh across the world in a complex logistical challenge. Santa makes sure the presents are delivered on time  and in full before little heads lift from pillows to wake their big people at 4am! (Well, I did.)

 “Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight”

After far too much food and drink and before you know it, the same robust and reliable S&OP cycle starts once more. See you next year Santa.

Read more articles on Supply Chain Excellence and Route To Market on our website where you can also subscribe to our frequent updates.

Finally, feel free to use any of our contact routes including Live Chat, if you have any questions about how the Enchange Supply Chain House can assist your journey to supply chain excellence.



Tags: Dave Jordan, S&OP, Supply Chain House, supply chain excellence

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