Santa’s Little Auditor


The Elf on the Shelf craze is a fun way for parents to engage their children in Christmas while encouraging them to behave. The idea that the elf is watching and will report back to Santa each night is enough to make even the most mischievous youngster shape up. However, what the parents see as a fun, festive idea might not seem so fun to the kids. The Elf on the Shelf is essentially there to see what the kids are doing wrong and report it to a higher authority. In the life sciences, there’s a name for a figure that shows up to monitor a company’s activities and report on what they’re doing wrong: auditors.

Basically, Christmastime is when your children are audited by Santa and his elves. To make sure your children get everything they deserve, your Elf on the Shelf needs a good system to that connects it to Santa and lets it analyze behavior to make sure the good behavior isn’t just seasonal. There are a couple of ways your Elf on the Shelf can collect this information, but they’re not equally efficacious.

Option #1

You could do this the old-fashioned way. Arm your Elf on the Shelf with a pen and paper and let it take notes about how your children behave. Then each night it’ll return to the North Pole and report to Santa. However, that leaves you open to a lot of uncovered time when the elf doesn’t see what’s going on. It’s prone to miss important events, such as your children fighting before bedtime or sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night to eat ice cream. Of course, missing events isn’t the only error that your Elf on the Shelf is prone to on a paper-based system.

There are two obvious sections in Santa’s list — naughty and nice. But determining which category your children fall under depends on the rules you’ve set, your own household regulations and standards. What you consider good or bad behavior might differ from the best practices the elf has seen in other households, so you need to ensure it’s familiar with your standards. Maybe your children are allowed a piece of candy before bed or maybe they don’t have to roll out of bed quite so early as the elf expects. Trying to ensure that you and the elf are on the same page is hard, if not impossible, if you’re on a paper-based system.

Where does this leave you? Your children’s behavior won’t be completely monitored, meaning your elf will be dealing with an incomplete data set. This could lead to a child being erroneously placed on the naughty or nice list. And even if the elf did have complete data, you and it might not be on the same page regarding how your children should be audited. Fortunately, digitizing solves these problems.

Option #2

Do your children a favor and get your Elf on the Shelf access to an electronic audit management system. One of the biggest problems in the above scenario is the time required for the elf to travel back to the North Pole and report to Santa. By using an electronic system, you eliminate that problem. The web-based system can be easily accessed worldwide, so Santa can see in real time how the elf is reporting on your children. Not only does this ensure the elf doesn’t miss anything, it also means the data is complete because the elf can truly see them when they’re sleeping and know when they’re awake.

Even better than instantaneous reporting is the idea of your children’s suddenly angelic behavior becoming permanent. How many times have your children shaped up in December, only to revert to their typical behavior in January? With an audit management system in place, you can track and trend the data that the elf puts into the system. Keep inputting data past December 25, and you can determine if your children are just putting on an act to get toys, or if they’ve turned over a new leaf. This is a more accurate indicator of if they’re naughty or nice.

Your audit management system isn’t just useful for reporting and analyzing data. It can also ensure that you and the elf are clear on your expectations for your children and what you consider acceptable behavior. A document control system can work with the audit management system and give the elf access to your household SOPs. By tying the audit management system to your SOPs, the elf can directly reference the problem while keeping an eye on your children. That way there’s consistency across what gets reported to Santa and what you try to enforce with your kids.


When it comes to determining who’s naughty or nice, an Elf on the Shelf is vital to Santa’s operation. However, when it’s given a scroll and a quill pen to work with, the effectiveness of the process is severely diminished. To make sure Santa gets the right report and to encourage behavior that sticks, look no further than an audit management system for a truly happy holiday.


Sarah Beale is a content marketing specialist at MasterControl in Salt Lake City, where she writes white papers, web pages, and is a frequent contributor to the company’s blog, GxP Lifeline. Beale has been writing about the life sciences and health care for over five years. Prior to joining MasterControl she worked for a nutraceutical company in Salt Lake City and before that she worked for a third-party health care administrator in Chicago. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in business administration from DeVry University.

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