Customised Logistics Software Development: Why, How & How Much?
The market offers many ready-made software products for the logistics industry, so why build another one?
The answer is simple: Off the shelf logistics software always requires expensive and time-consuming customisation to make it suit a particular business’ needs. Meanwhile, by investing the same money in program development, your company can benefit from a tailored logistics solution.
With a customised solution, you can be sure it meets all company requirements and offers flexibility, scalability, and advanced security protocols. Not to mention cost-efficiency in the long run. As you get a full-featured product that’s purpose-built for your business’ operational activities, there’s no need for capital expenditure on additional customisations or extra features.
To develop logistics software that works as intended and delivers real value to your company, you need experienced specialists and a robust development plan. MadAppGang’s team of experts has first-hand experience building logistics apps, corporate software, and e-commerce apps. We can help you plan and build efficient digital tools for web, iOS and Android. But first, let’s first clarify what logistics software is, why you need a custom solution, and how to build it.
What is logistics software and how can it benefit your business?
There are many different types of logistics software, but in general, these platforms are used to automate and manage fleet and warehouse activities, order processing, inventory control, freight transportation, and so on. Using logistics software wisely can benefit your business in numerous ways including:
- Better route planning
- Reduced delivery times
- Real-time tracking of all operations
- Fast communication
- Speedy and in-depth data reports
- Reduced transport expenses
- Reduced operational and maintenance costs
- Efficient customer service
- Better supply chain management
- Reduced risk of human error
In other words, a logistics platform increases visibility into workflow processes, boosts supply chain efficiency, improves customer service, and can even reduce the cost of transport services.
Off the shelf versus dedicated logistics solutions
In regards to off the shelf (ready-made) solutions for logistics companies, there are several types of software available:
- Warehouse management platforms – To track a company’s inventory and help manage distribution operations.
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems – Helps manage everyday activities such as accounting, purchasing, risk and project management, and compliance.
- Supply chain management solutions – For evaluating material and human resources, controlling production and dispatch, overseeing shipments and freightage.
- Transportation management systems– Includesshipping logistics software and on-demand delivery logistics apps. These solutions help coordinate and execute the movement of goods and ensure that shipments are compliant and properly documented.
While each of these solutions can be useful when used for their intended purpose, they are no match for integrated logistics solutions that are tailored to a particular business’ needs at all operational levels. When you develop custom logistics software, all the features of the above systems can be combined as needed to create a unique product that delivers real value.
In addition, with a custom solution, you can add extra functionalities that increase efficiency among staff. For example, when creating Atlas, an app for truck drivers, the MapAppGang team integrated offline maps and a pit stop planner. With these functions, truck drivers were able to plan and check routes everywhere, even in the far regions of Kazakhstan with zero network coverage.
How to develop logistics software
Ready to leverage technologies for better productivity, fleet management, and customer service? Don't know where to start? To inspire you, MadAppGang prepared a four-step guide to develop a tailored logistic platform.
1. Identify your needs
Your first step is to define your company’s pain points and make a list of problems the logistics software should solve. For example, if fielding phone calls and emails about order locations and statuses is taking office staff away from higher-value work, your logistics software could send regular push notifications or emails with the latest order information.
Or perhaps you’re inspired by DHL’s SmarTrucking system and want to introduce something similar to your company, or you’d like to explore drone-based delivery. Customised logistics software with integrated IoT tools makes these plans easy to implement.
Once you have a clear vision of what the software should achieve, it's easier to determine the solution’s scope, its deployment type, the number of features required, and its estimated cost.
2. Choose the deployment type: Cloud or on-premises
Your second step in logistics software development is to decide upon a deployment strategy. With an on-premises deployment, all services will be installed on your company’s hardware and servers. Consequently, your company takes full control over the running, management, and maintenance of the software. This type of deployment is less flexible and quite expensive but it offers a better level of security and gives the company total control over its servers and backups.
Cloud-based software is housed offsite, and another company is responsible for monitoring and maintaining it. As a result, it costs less as you don't have to buy extra hardware and hire an in-house team to maintain and upgrade systems. Additionally, a cloud-based management system is easier to integrate with other systems from prior installations. Another big advantage of cloud solutions is that users can access the system from any location.
3. Determine the essential features
A logistics platform's features are determined by the type of business that uses it. For example, in fuel delivery app development, in-built navigation is essential, while a barcode scanner is superfluous. Meanwhile, the same barcode scanner is indispensable in warehouse management systems. Sometimes, it’s not easy to define the list of necessary features. So, here is a hint from where to start.
According to your business type and requirements, choose which of the following base system models (all part of transport management systems in general) is the best fit for your company and use it as a starting point:
- Customer relationships management (CRM)
- Warehouse management systems (WMS)
- Supply chain management (SCM)
- Enterprise asset management (EAM)
- Manufacturing execution systems (MES)
From there, decide which features within the model are vital and which are superfluous. Think about additional functionalities you need to include: real-time tracking, multi-language and multi-currency support, KPI supervision, integration with accounting programs, and so on.
4. Complete your logistics software with a mobile app
Mobile apps complete a company’s logistics software system and link the head office/s to staff, ships, and vehicles no matter where they are. Real-time company data is accessible across the company, and the data’s insights keep the wheels turning smoothly. For example, truck drivers can use an app to send the documentation to warehouses while en route. By expediting business processes, companies can save a lot of time and money, and provide better service to clientele.
A logistics app makes communication more efficient, allowing companies to analyse data faster for immediate decisions and actions. A fleet management mobile app or vehicle tracking app, for example, offers real-time fleet data, the benefits of which are obvious. Track all trucks and provide help if a driver suddenly runs out of gasoline somewhere in the Mojave, for instance.
Today’s logistics software is nimble and capable of overhauling many aspects of traditional logistics. Combine various functionalities and create a custom solution that is designed for your business model. Even if covering all needs by one platform looks challenging, with the help of professionals you can do it fast and hassle-free.
Get in touch with MadAppGang’s project managers. We can help you plan the software, define key features in the app and the logistics solution as a whole, determine a budget, and estimate a deadline. Once our experts have your idea, they can turn it into smart logistics software that optimises your business processes.
How much does it cost to develop logistics software?
The cost of logistics software development varies. Typically, a minimum viable product (MVP) of a standard solution starts at $20,000. However, numerous factors affect the total cost:
1. The type of deployment. As mentioned, on-premises deployment costs more. If you opt for a solution based on cloud technology, you save on extra hardware and maintenance expenses.
2. Number of features to include in the web platform and mobile app. It's logical to assume that the simpler your solution, the cheaper it is, but that’s a false economy. It's cheaper to integrate all the necessary functionalities when you develop the logistics software as adding features to existing products is time-consuming and expensive. Besides, with a full-featured solution, you improve all business processes immediately, saving on operational costs and providing better service right away.
3. The way you develop logistics software. Hiring an in-house team of developers requires lots of time, effort, and capital expenditure. Acquiring and licensing a preexisting logistics platform is economic, but less efficient. As discussed earlier, prepackaged software solutions may lack necessary customisations or be unable to integrate with the apps you need.
Relying on an experienced development firm is the smartest way to develop logistics software. Your customised solution will be implemented fairly quickly, per spec and your company’s needs, and for a reasonable price. In addition, an outsourced development team saves you money on office rent, equipment (hardware, software), and so on.
The bottom line
Custom logistics management software helps logistics companies organise and automate supply chain management. It eases inventory and order management, enhances communication and fieldwork management, allows the company to process more orders, and to provide better customer support. Logistics is a competitive industry, to stay relevant, companies need to hit their targets and work smarter than others in the field. Good logistics software makes this much easier.
At first glance, developing a custom logistics solution may seem challenging, but it's worth it. With the help of the right team of developers, an advanced web platform and mobile app that facilitates your processes and ultimately saves your company money is well within reach. Send us a description of your vision and we'll get back to you to discuss the details.