The day before any major event is chaotic. All the shipments from the various sponsors arrive and we have limited time to prepare and set up the space. Assembling the swag bags has proven to be one of the more challenging things to accomplish.
At MongoSF and MongoNYC, the team was tasked with preparing 800 swag bags in less than a day. Each green bag contains a few different items: stickers, a copy of the Little MongoDB book, coupons and data sheets from our sponsors, a leaf-shaped USB key, and a coffee mug, of course.
Having done this many times now, we’ve come up with some tricks to do it quickly. After a few iterations, we became quite efficient at assembling the bags.
At first, forming a line of the various items that need to be assembled is the most obvious approach:
However, in this model, you can only move as fast as the person ahead of you in line. In addition, we usually have limited space so setting up a long assembly line is impractical.
The first step to improving efficiency is establishing a pipeline. The larger task of assembling the bag can be broken into several sub-tasks in which certain resources are prepared:
- Unfolding the green bag and inserting the cardboard bottom
- Folding any large data sheets
- Collating all paper items
- Stuffing the coffee mug with small trinkets, including USB keys and stickers
Each individual works a station, diligently unfolding, folding, collating, and stuffing. The people at these stations queue up stacks of their prepared items. Another individual moves from station to station assembling the bags and putting them in a storage area. We can increase throughput by parallelizing each sub-task: multiple people folding or stuffing or assembling.
The more efficient method looks like this:
Happy bag stuffing!