The enormous growth in parcel delivery brings PostNL significant logistical challenges. At the same time, we want to offer our customers maximum flexibility, for example by giving senders and recipients control over the time and manner of delivery. This requires accelerated digitisation within PostNL where people with the right engineering skills play a key role. As Technology Lead, I am part of this transformation.

Company challenge

PostNL processes enormous volumes of parcels. We are used to process almost one million parcels per day before the COVID crisis hit. But that volume has increased significantly since the pandemic. All those parcels have to be collected, sorted, routed and delivered every day. By using intelligent IT , we run an efficient process and accommodate our customers’ delivery needs as best as possible. Maximum leverage of data, advanced automation and the development of new digital services are essential.

We have already accomplished a lot in digitising our business over the past years. Each individual parcel already moves in its own unique way through an increasingly intelligent logistic process – how depends, among other things, on the preferences and knowledge of the sender and recipient. We achieve and optimise this process based on data analysis and automated business rules.

PostNL is a highly data-driven company. We leverage real time data generated by transactions and parcels to optimise execution. We do this together with our network partners. Our technology is constantly evolving in this changing world.

Technology challenge

My challenge as a Technology Lead is that you don’t just want to roll out a solution that works for today, but also want to have the ability to be flexible and respond to new opportunities and changing needs over time. This combination of continuity and agility requires a three-pronged approach: platforms with autonomous teams, the right technology choices and effective cooperation.

We have chosen to set up dedicated teams on clearly defined platforms where a team is able to make its own decisions. Architecture is key in enabling good cooperation between all the platforms and the responsible teams. This approach ensures speed, agility and cohesion.

Our IT operates entirely in the cloud. Our data centre, which was closed down a while ago, has now been replaced by our multi-cloud strategy. We’ve chosen the best cloud per domain within our architecture. Our solutions are increasingly cloud-native and are based on open source products and technologies.

Continuity of our systems is extremely important at PostNL. Ensuring that systems will keep working but can still be adapted to new insights and challenges requires constant attention. That’s why we use extensive CI/CD pipelines that ensure automated and controlled go-live for all critical systems and platforms within our application landscape.

Personal challenge

Based on my background in engineering and my almost 13-year history with the company, I think PostNL has taken on a bold challenge: to become a real logistic tech company! Being able to experience this from the start is fantastic.

Engineering has always been important within PostNL, but the partners did most of the heavy work. That’s why we’re not really known as a tech company yet. Our goal for the next two years is to organise everything that sets us apart in the market, right here within the company. In this process, we've primarily opted for Mendix, C#, Java, Javascript and Python. And all our logistics systems run in the AWS cloud.

As a Technology Lead, I support in building a scalable engineering community within PostNL: initially with a relatively small number of highly effective people and teams, who will maintain that effectiveness as we scale up. In the coming months and years, we will be hiring around 150 to 200 people – I’ll be a sounding board for them, with a direct line to the CTO.

I see myself primarily as a linking pin and driving force. My personal challenge is to support engineers as best as I can, so that they can reach their full potential within the teams. It's furthermore important to encourage team-wide cooperation, so that we don’t all have to reinvent the wheel when we apply technology within the IT platform. By organising the engineering community based on these points, we’ll strike the right balance between individual responsibility and company-wide optimisation.

Opportunities

We’re in the process of building the development teams with the right people and competencies. Preferably people with a interest for both logistics and the 24x7 mission-critical IT behind it. That’s why we are actively going out and showing software engineers the interesting solutions they can work on here.

Our goal for the next several years is to add, together with our in-house engineering team and our partners, distinctive functionality – at a rapid pace and high frequency – to all relevant systems so that we can provide increasingly better service to our customers.

This requires engineers with a strong vision who are not afraid of complex challenges. We’re looking for people who want to embark on this journey, and help plot our route to a truly digital company!

Do you want to know more?

Contact Ronald Allard:
+31(0)6 10 93 54 69


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