Case Study

North Pole Inc.

north pole inc case study

North Pole Inc. Creates Project Planning Process to Better Streamline Holiday Season Training

December 25, 2021

15
L&D Team

Holiday Cheer
Industry

10,000
Employees

Meet Santa Claus!

Chief Elf Organizer (CEO) at North Pole Inc.

Many think that the work of the learning and development team at North Pole Inc. (NPI) is incredibly cyclical with most of their efforts focused on supporting mandatory compliance training for the holiday season. However, the learning culture at the North Pole is quite focused on delivering digital learning experiences to their employees all year round.

While North Pole Inc. had an LMS and many authoring tools in place, the L&D team started to express concerns about visibility into their projects across the team and thought that they weren’t operating as efficiently as they could be. 

Santa Claus oversees the learning and development function at NPI and connected with Synapse when he realized that they had to overhaul their project management process so their team could collaborate more effectively with each other and other SMEs (Spirit and Magic Experts).

The two areas they were most focused on improving were Training Intake and Project Management.

The Challenge

Prior to implementing Synapse, Santa and his team had minimal processes in place for accepting new learning requests from the business. 

Santa explained, “We get all of these requests from our different business units. We had no visibility into what was being requested by Elf Support, Reindeer Management or Snow Development. Then I’d get asked by our leadership to outline where our projects were coming from and didn’t have this information.”

We had no visibility into what was being requested by Elf Support, Reindeer Management or Snow Development. Then I’d get asked by our leadership to outline where our projects were coming from and didn’t have this information.”

The other intake challenge Synapse was able to support NPI with was requests from external stakeholders. 

““Every year we still get millions of LETTERS from children across the world with their requests for the holiday season. Letters, in 2021, can you believe it?"

Beyond managing their request pipeline, Synapse has helped NPI streamline their project management process for their learning requests. Previously, each member of their team would track their projects using Sledpoint, a proprietary tool developed by the IT team at NPI. But Santa highlighted that because it wasn’t built with learning and training in mind, it was falling short of keeping the team connected and providing true visibility.  

The Solution

After the 2020 Holiday Season ended, we started working with Santa and the team at NPI to implement a more robust training intake and planning process. 

While Synapse typically focuses on learning requests, during the 2021 holiday season, NPI implemented an intake form for holiday gift requests.

"This is the most efficient we’ve ever been. We can even connect directly with the requestor to get more details on their request. You’d be surprised how many different “sleds” we offer, and sometimes children just don’t specify that in their request."

They also created a custom planning board that let them track their projects as they progressed through their development cycle. This allowed them to capture the training needs and key data to make their project scoping and visibility much more effective. 

One of the other features that helped Santa streamline their development was having a true understanding of their teams resourcing and capacity. Using the Capacity feature, Santa could easily see who had availability to take on additional work. 

“It was incredible. I was able to pull up the Capacity tab and see in a blink that my team was under-resourced heading into our busiest few weeks. But I also saw that one of my employees, well, he wasn’t taking on any holiday work at all. That allowed me to follow up with them to see why there was a lack of holiday and team spirit.”

The Results

As 2021 approached, Santa shared that Synapse allowed him to have better visibility into the organization’s training needs. 

“It was the first time I had true visibility into what our team needed. I understood that the Elves needed more training on building apps for smart devices and our Reindeer needed to better understand the changing shipping market.” 

They have used Synapse to track hundreds of training projects as the holidays approached and Santa is excited about the long term benefits of this too!

“A lot of our training is annual. Each year, we now have the ability to easily access and update important information to help prepare the team for each holiday season.”

Santa and his team are excited to continue to use Synapse and think it’ll have many applications to help upskill their workforce this coming off-season.  

"People think that what we pulled off this season is magic, and I tell them: ho, ho ho, no - it’s Synapse."