When people talk about logistics technology as a whole, there are actually many different sectors, applications and process flows that make up the entire chain. You have everything from driver onboarding, fleet management, resources management, transport operations and many more. When building logistics software it is crucial to consider all of the process flows and integrations that need to be catered for. The last thing you want is to misunderstand the different parties involved, logistics operations flow are complex and require multiple touch points. The system that you build out needs to have this factored in.
As with any software development project, the first thing required is to map out the operations process in detail. This means to take each step of the operations flow and see what features and system UX is needed to execute efficiently. When mapping out this flow, it is important to take note that the software you are building should be with the mind to automate and reduce manual touch points at every possible step. Keep it simple, do not over complicate it. Once this has been done, you can look to see what the ideal UI would look like, this is where you can look at existing logistics solutions which are off the shelf, you can design one from scratch or you can look at any open source tools that are available to help you minimize time and cost. The system UI/UX is crucial for logistics systems. Not only will you have users from all different job roles and types, but you will encounter many different potential operations flows. It is of uppermost importance to make sure the system is simple, easy to use and user friendly. You now have a streamlined operational flow and an idea of what the system will need to do and how you want it to look. The next step is to make sure you commence to build this system in the most time and cost effective way possible. Luckily in 2023, there are many tools and development methods you can adopt to achieve exactly that.
So the first thing to consider is, will an off the shelf solution work? If you are looking for immediate results, there are tons of SAAS platforms out there that can get you automating and optimising your operations instantly. The plus side to this is you start to understand the current software solutions and which features you like, which features you think are redundant and also the complexity of your build. It also makes sense to test software so you know exactly what you want to build and get inspiration of what has been done well and not so well, it gives you time to get everything in place and align your current logistics operational flows and employees to a shift to digital enhancements.
Off the shelf solutions are great, but come with a few drawbacks such as access to data, the ease of customisation and also limits in scaling. If you are looking to scale with your technology it may make more sense to have full control of the systems, and also bring a bigger valuation to your business as whole and you are in full ownership and control of your technology stack.
So you have already mapped out your ideal system, you have tested the market to see what's out there and you have also aligned your existing operations to make a digital shift. Now it is time to start building.
This can be done in a few ways. One is to start building in house, that means having your own developer, project manager and system maintenance staff in order to commence development. The other way is to work with a development house and outsource your development work. Either way you want to make sure you are capturing each logistics process and you are keeping the development time and the development cost to a minimum. This is where open source logistics software comes into play. Open source logistics and developer tools, gives you a starting point which is miles ahead than if you were to start development from scratch. Companies providing open source and developer tools for logistics have done the hard work for you. They have already done the tedious development of all things that are required in logistics software. This can be all the way from building a usable console, down to more tedious development such as routing engines, and creating logistics order flows.
In 2023 there really is no need to reinvent the wheel. A suggestion would be to see what current logistics open source projects and developer tools are available, and see how they align to your development plans, previously outlined in this post. Even if the developer tools that are available don't match your plans 100% at least you have saved time on building the key components from scratch, and not to mention as open source allows you direct access to the systems source code, you are free to add in and remove features that you need. The other plus point is that open source software is clear about their roadmaps and their upcoming system features from the company themselves and the community.
Building with open source software shouldn't be scary, companies provide clear documentation on how to get started, they provide modern and contemporary solutions and also very in-depth support not only from the company themselves but the community as well.
At Fleetbase, we recognise the complexities and costs that developers and businesses face when building logistics technology solutions. That's why we have set out to make development easier and cost effective by providing open source solutions. We provide a full open source suite split into applications packages that provides the main components you need to execute logistics operations. All the way from open source transport management systems, to driver and customer ordering apps. 'The Stripe for logistics'. You can explore our products here.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about logistics developer tools and to see how Fleetbase can help you manage your hyperlocal operations process and expedite the build out of new systems and applications.