How Appstellar Built AdVal to Move Rail Taxes to the Cloud
About the Client – IHL
Iron Horse Logistics Group provides comprehensive rail/barge logistics services, including shipment management, fleet management, repair management, and rate/pricing management.
They navigate the complexities of rail and the benefits and limitations of barge to make things simpler for their clients, manage hands-on logistics functions to streamline processes and create cost-effective solutions, and so much more. Aiming to ease the process of reporting taxes for rail transportation within the United States, they came to us with the idea to build AdVal.
About the Solution
AdVal is a product designed to streamline the tax reporting process for rail transportation businesses in the United States. It is an ideal solution for companies with large fleets of railcars that operate across multiple states, as it allows them to easily report their state taxes digitally and track the payment status of their taxes. By automating the tax reporting process and providing clear, detailed insights into the process, AdVal makes it easier for businesses in the rail industry to manage their tax obligations and ensure compliance with state regulations.
Core features of AdVal
Our development team worked tirelessly to create a product that fulfilled the client's requests but also had extra features we believed would make the product better. The main features include the following:
- saving state reports in the application
- saving state mileage reporting by carrier
- accepting or rejecting assessments
- recording tax payments issued to the states
- automatic creation of tax reports
The functionality that sets the application apart from others is the automatic filling of reports from the data contained in the application.
Did We Deliver?
We looked for a long time for the right developer, one who would understand exactly what we needed, work closely with us to ensure we stay on track, deliver what we request, and offer at a price we can afford. Appstellar met all those criteria when others failed or were unable to do so.
President & CEO
What They Needed Help With
IHL's goals were to simplify the taxation process, reduce the time required to do taxes, and have a data repository for easy analysis and reference.
The challenge was creating an intuitive interface that helps users understand and manage their dues in real time by giving them access to more than 50 different tax forms (for 50 U.S. states), including personal income statements, corporate tax returns, and more.
However, we managed to do it, and these were the client's answers when we asked him about their satisfaction:
How has your experience working with the Appstellar team been?
Overall this has been a very good experience.
Is the technical team responsive and timely?
Yes, so far the team has been responsive and reacted quickly to issues discovered.
Architecture, Infrastructure, and Tech Stack
To ensure a smooth and efficient development process, we created an architecture and infrastructure diagram outlining the application and its deployment strategy, including the build and deploy processes. By implementing Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment pipelines from the start, we were able to deliver the solution to the client in incremental stages, allowing for a faster development pace and frequent product releases. This approach also allowed the client to provide early feedback as they saw the product take shape.
The solution was designed using a microservices architecture and, with scalability in mind, broken down into a number of smaller, independent microservices, each deployed independently without affecting the overall integrity of the platform. We chose microservices architecture due to its many advantages.
Microservices architecture benefits
- Improved fault isolation
If one microservice fails, the others can continue to function, which helps to minimize the impact of failures on the overall system.
- Flexibility in language choice
Different services can be implemented in different programming languages, allowing developers to choose the best language for each service.
- Ease of understanding and modification
Microservices are designed to represent a small piece of functionality, which makes them easy to understand and modify.
- Improved team productivity
The modular nature of microservices allows developers to work on different services independently, which can help to improve team productivity.
- Enhanced scalability
Microservices can be independently scaled, allowing more flexibility in resource allocation and the ability to scale individual services as needed.
- Improved deployment and testing
Microservices can be deployed and tested independently, making the overall deployment process more efficient and reducing the risk of errors.
While the development team started building the product's foundation, our DevOps Engineers were also busy laying out the initial infrastructure. We used Terraform to define, provision, and manage all the resources that made up the AWS infrastructure.
We stored our Terraform configuration files in a GitHub repository, enabling us to track and version changes and improve traceability. The DevOps team followed the same development lifecycle as our development team, and updates to the infrastructure went through a formal code review process. By reviewing the plan, code reviewers can understand the impact of the proposed changes and identify any potential issues before they apply the changes to the infrastructure.
Working in parallel with the development team helped us quickly set up the necessary infrastructure and get the application up and running. The infrastructure continued to evolve in tandem with the product.
Our unique combination of cloud software development and DevOps services makes us the perfect partner for companies looking to build their products in the cloud. When IHL contacted us with their idea, we were excited to take on the challenge. From the United States to Kosovo, we worked closely with IHL to develop the best solution for reducing the pain of taxation.
IHL has been a leader in the rail transportation industry since 2002. Their focus has always been on making this industry more efficient, and with our help, they will be able to take advantage of new solutions and ensure they are following the best industry standards.
Working closely with IHL, we developed a solution that leveraged the latest cloud technologies to streamline the tax reporting process for rail transportation businesses in the United States. We are committed to supporting IHL's mission of making the rail industry more efficient and ensuring they adhere to the highest industry standards.