Let's face it, Santa Claus has the ultimate Project Management challenge on his hands; 364 days of preparation for a 10-hour project. Just 10 hours to deliver all the presents in the entire world, accompanied only by some flying reindeer. He has to fly on the designated date - he can't bunk off sick on Christmas Eve if he's got a cold. He has to get all the time zones right, AND only go down the chimney once the children are safely asleep.... and any parent knows that pre-Christmas excitement and sleep don't mix, which makes his route changeable, to say the least. Luckily, Santa has special access to every mobile network in the world, allowing him to stay in close contact with his team of elves and Virtual Assistants, all of whom have been working hard throughout the year to ensure that this night of all nights goes without a single hitch ensuring that the only hiccups are those emanating from the elves that got into the Gin warehouse.
Santa Claus has a large team of Virtual Assistants, several in every country in fact. This ensures that language and cultural difficulties are not experienced, and the most sought-after toys for every nation are secured successfully. The teams include:
General Admin VA
General Admin VA helps Santa’s Behavioural Review Elves to create and update a spreadsheet which can filter out naughty children, giving reasons why they may not receive any gifts.
Information Management VA
Information Management VA keeps the spreadsheet of gifts requested by children fully up to date. There are always a significant minority of children who change their mind about what they want just before Christmas. It is the Information Management VA’s role to inform Procurement, Warehouse, and Workshop of any changes to requirements. This is done on a two-hourly basis throughout December. Luckily, if Santa already bought the gift for the child, there is usually another child who does want the gift. This is a huge task, and there are multiple VA's dedicated to this task during November and December when the television toy adverts start.
Project Management VA
Project management VA’s plan and manage all the deadlines and sub-projects necessary to ensure a smooth-running process on the night. Using Gantt charts to track every part of the process, they ensure that the time leading up to the big night is well used and that all project milestones are met on time throughout the year.
Warehouse VA’s manage the stock control for gifts and ensure that there is sufficient warehouse space, the shelves are properly labelled, and safe handling rules are published and observed.
Health and Safety VA
The Health and Safety VA team ensures that PPE and uniforms are provided for all Elves, VA's and of course for Santa Claus. Safety boots are specially ordered for elves using the exact Pantone shade of green. Even the steel toe caps are green. Santa Claus has patent leather safety boots and needs two pairs a year which are specially made for him and have a lovely sheepskin lining. These VA's also help to supervise the Elves who are notoriously giddy and silly and play all sorts of dangerous tricks on each other if they aren't closely supervised.
Reindeer Management VA
Reindeer Management VA ensures that the reindeer are well cared for throughout the year and have the right mix of moss, reindeer food, and water to keep them healthy. She also ensures they follow their allotted fitness regime to ensure they are in peak condition with sufficient stamina to make the long journey on the night. The reindeer carry out regular practice runs with the sleigh. These are timed to ensure they will be able to meet the strict timings needed to get everything delivered on time.
Procurement and Stock Control VA
This team works together to manage the regular incoming orders for the standard gifts that all children like to receive such as chocolate, sweeties, books, DVDs, and bicycles. These are ordered in bulk ahead of time, based on the previous year’s figures averaged but delivered monthly throughout the year to allow manufacturers to average out the demand on their machinery throughout the year. A final order is placed in late November based on the actual quantities requested. Some items are on a sale or return basis. Being based at the North Pole, all edible gifts are kept so cold that they can be safely stored for a year without detriment.
Public Relations VA
Santa’s personal PR VA handles his personal appearances throughout the world, ensuring that his travel schedule is managed effectively to make the best use of his time during the run-up to Christmas.
Mail VA Team
This is one of the biggest VA teams. They handle the letters and emails from children and update the spreadsheet of gifts requested to ensure that there is a clear overview of items required. The spreadsheet is available to the finance and stock control VA’s via a shared DropBox folder so that they can collaborate to ensure that sufficient gifts of each type are going to be available on the night.
The Finance VA team manage the payment of bills as well as credit control and budget management, regularly reporting to Santa Claus who reviews the costs to ensure they are within target.
All of these things are tasks that a freelance VA could do for a less exalted personage than Santa Claus of course. And whilst I'm not a financial or a reindeer expert, if your admin is driving you demented, and you need tasks to be completed accurately, efficiently and within the deadline set for it, then please get in touch with me.