Hands up if you don’t know what an Expeditor is
Oh don’t worry – you’re not alone if you’re not too sure what an expeditor is or does. The expeditor is just that quintessential guy-behind-the-guy that plays a pivotal role in successful project execution. That’s all.
The management of critical path items in large construction projects usually involves the coordination of multiple events coming together at exactly the right time. In order for work to be completed smoothly, you need the crews, equipment, materials, drawings, instructions, etc. to all be there at-the-ready, with all preconditions and preparations met, at precisely the right time. For most organizations, the responsibility for the logistics in making sure this all happens without a snag, is perceived as the job of the Project Manager. While true, the project manager is the face of project coordination, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that enable the project manager to achieve the success they’re looking for.
The often-forgotten-about-guy that plays a fundamental role in construction logistics, is the procurement Expeditor. In procurement management, the expeditor is the person who rides the backs of the suppliers and contractors to organize the forecasted delivery dates of equipment, materials and contracted work. He or she spends hours communicating with vendors, and monitoring the incremental progress and milestones made by, for example, fabricators. They feed those delivery forecasts and logistics details to the project manager so that they can then have accurate timing information.
It’s most often the case that original delivery dates set by suppliers are delayed for one reason or another. It might be that the fabricator was bang-on-time, but the equipment got caught up in customs. Or there was a mining strike in Peru, so the supplier couldn’t get their supply of copper to build the pump. The expeditor monitors all the detailed items and milestones to their successful delivery to the site. And then, once delivered, they input key information into their procurement management software on issues like: quality, damages, overages, etc.
With their close ties to vendors, they play a pivotal role in vendor performance ratings and vendor scorecards.
We have a lot of respect for the expeditor. We talk to a lot of them. We listen to what they do and respond to their requirements for technology they need to do their job. As a company that builds procurement management software, one of the more complex and central workflows in that software is tailored to is the work of the expeditor.