We detail a case study on the implementation of a logistics management tool for the city of Yverdon-Les-Bains

This is an excellent illustration of "agile development and continuous deployment" with open-source technologies as we practice it at ThirdBrain SA.

These operations will involve hundreds of volunteers, city hall employees, restaurant owners, and stores in the city. 

All operations are coordinated via software developed by ThirdBrain SA. We will have up to 150 people involved around our software in real time at any given time via desktop and cell phones.

This software allows centralizing delivery information, breaking down deliveries, tracking them, and consolidating actions at the statistical level to enable policy decisions.

The operations will help the most vulnerable people in March 2020 and then the following year from January to April 2021, allow about twenty restaurants to develop 500,000 CHF of additional turnover thanks to deliveries made by employees of the municipality of Yverdon-Les-Bains (VD. Switzerland).

At the request of the municipality, ThirdBrain SA will develop an operational prototype in a few days and then develop it continuously for almost a year in close collaboration with users (volunteers, city council services) to make it a real delivery management tool that will allow to manage up to 2'000 covers per day during peak hours and to develop more than 500'000 CHF of additional turnover for about twenty restaurant owners.

The first application is developed in 5 days and is operational on the 6th day

No software on the market allows to stick to a very simple objective in the desired timing (a few days): to easily warn all the actors (preparer, deliverer, administrator) by respecting to the letter the instructions given by the city hall. 

Existing solutions require a deployment time of more than 5 days for most of them and an associated training time. We have neither the deployment time nor the training time. 

We therefore choose to do without existing solutions but also PHP frameworks - by experience, frameworks always have a more or less long adaptation time to your requirements -, to start with " naked" PHP/MySQL but with the couple Boostrap 4 / Jquery which allows from free template available on the internet to have already a "correct" UX .

In our case, the most important thing is to be able to contact all the actors (pickers, deliverers, stores, customers) in a safe way - it is the SMS that is chosen to the detriment of the EMAIL considered too insecure.

Note also that a new domain that would fire emails in quantity quickly would be automatically and quickly classified as a spammer. We would have to "heat up" our email shooting servers and we don't have the time. This is also the origin of the choice of the SMS as the only communication vector which will be doubled at the end of the project by a backup by email in case of unavailability of the SMS gateway (which happened partially 1 time in 1 year).

Every day at 10pm, an SMS is sent to all participants asking for their feedback on the application and the organization. They answer via a form on the website.

We set up a "feedback loop" to feed our continuous improvements by directly involving the users themselves of the application. They send back feedbacks during the night. In the morning, the programmers unpack the feedback log and prioritize the elements to be corrected "just in time". By default, we prioritize all operations that take less than a day to deploy to production that evening. More important improvements are put in a backlog managed in sessions with the administrators who prioritize.

Very few bugs because each PHP script does only one thing

The PHP application is broken down into hundreds of mini-scripts that usually have only one task. Access to the MYSQL database is frugal and minimal: prohibition of heavy queries, simple select attacks etc..

The idea is to be able to intervene on a single script WITHOUT having to retest everything that works each time.

The application is stable, managed by classic GIT versioning.

For several months we will deploy EVERY night to improve functionality, speed, anticipate future problems or meet new needs.

We also control the hosting on our side thanks to our partner UPCLOUD whose applications are much more affordable and stable than their AMAZON counterparts.

in collaboration with the city of YVERDON-LES-BAINS in 2020 and 2021

The project is a total success at the technical (and political) level because several elements come together:

1 - Trust of the decision maker in the technician. The interfaces must be able to simplify the work of the people who use the application, but the decision-maker does not interfere with the visual and technical details implemented. He "trusts" by default. The technician executes by understanding the strategy and then corrects under the sole pressure of the application's users.

2 - The ambitions are measured and phased, that is to say that we always aim for "a little more" but the minimum to be able to operate by common agreement between the users of the application and its developer.

3 - Integration / Merger of teams: Everyone is part of the same team and is concerned by the result. No one is a "client" of the result but everyone is a stakeholder in the solution. In this case, the users will be the number 1 proposal force taken into account and ultimately those who decided where the application was going.

Do you have a project that requires similar responsiveness? You want a quote? ideas? advice on how to move forward.... let's take a moment together.

Pierre Jean Duvivier, director of ThirdBrain SA, a Swiss company active since 2012, invites you for a 45-minute first meeting.

Use the application below or contact me at 078 682 78 74 or via email at pierre.jean.duvivier@thirdbrain.ch

We develop applications and websites with our clients for our clients. 


in collaboration with the city of Yverdon-Les-Bains

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