Alaska Marine Highway Computer Assisted Crew Dispatch System Organization Review

Project Brief

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.


  • Review of Current System

  • Flowcharts

  • Process Diagrams and Documentation of current and future state

  • Software Requirements Specification

  • Procurement Support

  • Implementation Oversight

Related Work

State and Local Contracts

Wostmann & Associates has more than 25 years experience in state government technology projects. We have supported the State of Alaska in a variety of initiatives, from website and reporting systems to complex integration and enterprise systems and we welcome opportunities to any state with our experienced, senior technology professionals. We often perform our government services via our joint-venture partnership, Alaska IT Group, which combines our services with those of other leading small technology firms. Wostmann and Alaska IT Group are registered in Alaska for several IT service categories listed below. State agencies and local governments may utilize the Alaska Task Order Procurement System (TOPS) for our services or may contact us directly for more information.

  • Cat 2: Mid-range Systems Support

  • Cat 3: Specialized Server and Middleware Administration

  • Cat 4: Data Center Consulting

  • Cat 5: Security Consulting

  • Cat 6: IT Management Consulting

  • Cat 7: IT Procurement and Grant Services

  • Cat 8: OS390 and Z/OS Mainframe Applications Programming Support

  • Cat 9: Distributed Application Analysis, Design and Programming

  • Cat 10: Document Management

  • Cat 12: Project Management

  • Cat 13: Quality Assurance