Even after tomorrow's orders have been logged and your dispatcher has figured out when and where each of your drivers needs to show up, you still must deliver that information to them.

ScheduleCom makes that part of the scheduling process much simpler. ScheduleCom uses the Internet and computer telephony to make distributing schedule information as easy as clicking one button on the dispatcher's screen.

This voice scheduling system, which runs in a Web browser such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer, essentially marries your computer-based dispatch scheduling system to a text-to-speech conversion tool and a voicemail system. Once the dispatcher publishes the schedule, the system makes a personalized voice message available for each driver with everything about his next day's schedule.

Using ScheduleCom doesn't change the basics: You still have to set up the schedule, communicate it to your employees and monitor their acknowledgements and requests for changes. But this system streamlines the process and eliminates miscommunication.

Although initial installation and setup are not do-it-yourself items, once you're up and running, operation is simple and easy. And because it uses a Web browser interface, you can access it from anywhere within your organization.

Easy to use

The dispatcher begins by creating the next day's schedule. In that process, the program pulls together the list of drivers and automatically fills in stored information for each, including truck assignment, a default location, and a standard start time.

Pulldown menus allow the dispatcher to change any of the parameters, such as moving the start time earlier or later. When everything has been set, the dispatcher then simply clicks an onscreen button to publish the schedule.

Once the schedule has been published, employees can call in from any phone to hear their schedules for the day and any company messages. Each employee logs in with a user ID and password to hear only his personal schedule and messages. In the process, employee responses can be recorded, including voice messages for the dispatcher. The system can also pose questions to employees and capture their responses.

One great program feature is that as each employee calls in, a note appears on the dispatcher's screen confirming that the employee has logged in and played back the message. Also, if the employee leaves a voice message, a note immediately appears on the dispatcher's screen. Clicking on that note allows the dispatcher to immediately hear the message through the computer.

You can listen to examples of schedule and company messages at the Web site at www.schedulecom.com,

but you may have to turn off your popup blocker if you do this. You can also watch demonstrations of how a dispatcher creates, modifies, and publishes a daily schedule.

The system is available in three package sizes that support up to 75, 250, and 500 employees. It runs on your server and requires MS Windows 2000 Professional/Server OS, MS SQL Server 2000, and enough analog phone lines to match the number of ports for the package selected, which are four, eight, and 12, respectively.

ScheduleCom is a product of Cen-Apps Technologies of Lincoln, Calif. Earlier this year Birmingham, Ala.-based Command Alkon became the exclusive reseller of ScheduleCom to the construction materials industry. For more information, contact the company or visit the Web site at www.commandalkon.com.