Most communities in Southeast and Southwest Alaska are maritime, and most are only accessible by boat or plane, either because they are on islands or because roads have not yet been developed. The Alaska Marine Highway System, in operation since 1963, serves some 30 communities by moving people, goods, and vehicles, thus providing opportunities to these communities to develop and maintain a reasonable standard of living and a high quality of life.
For decades, the crew dispatch scheduling for the multiple vessels was accomplished by a combined effort using paper forms, disconnected databases, spreadsheets, and human memory. As the system and its rules – personnel, union, Coast Guard, safety – became ever more complex, this “system” demanded more and more from the crew dispatchers. An automated system was clearly needed, but exactly what that system would do and what it would interface with needed to be clearly defined and understood.
Wostmann extensively reviewed and documented the complex dispatching processes that had grown with the marine highway system. Through interviews our team learned of the daily complexities navigated by the dispatch staff as they sought to create good schedules for the officers and crew on board the ships from ever-changing and imperfect information. In its System Review and Software Requirements Specification, Wostmann captured not only the detailed process maps and technical specifications of the system as it existed and as a new one might be built, but also the real-life dedication of the Marine Highway System staff, creating highly readable, accurate, and useful technical documentation. Our team assisted the State with the selection and procurement of a new system as well as oversight during the implementation.
Deliverables: Review of Current System, Flowcharts, Process Diagrams and Documentation of current and future state; Software Requirements Specification, Procurement Support, Implementation Oversight.