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What Does "Expediting" Mean?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 28, 2024
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Expediting is the streamlining of projects to keep them on schedule and maintain quality standards. A business may task a person or department with expediting a project, or it can hire a third party with experience in this area of business. Firms that offer services to companies in need of assistance can be found in many regions of the world. People interested in careers in this field need only the job experience along with training in topics like accounting and business so they can offer a range of services to their employers or clients.

One aspect of expediting involves developing a calendar to keep a project on schedule. This includes establishing when and where the project will need supplies so arrangements can be made ahead of time to route supplies to the correct location. The expediter also monitors work to minimize lags. If a section of the project is moving more quickly than the schedule, the expediter wants to move necessary supplies into place to prevent situations where personnel are available and have nothing to do because the materials are not ready.

This work also involves monitoring quality of equipment and supplies. Expediters may visit suppliers to inspect their goods, request samples, and discuss the quality standards for the project. As supplies arrive on the project site, the expediter will examine them again to make sure they meet the standards. If there is a problem, the expediting team is responsible for negotiating with the supplier to address it, whether the issue is a shortage of supplies or equipment that does not function properly.

Expediting work requires inspection of supply chains and transport arrangements as well. The expediter wants goods to move quickly and safely from the supplier to a work site, and may use a variety of techniques to accomplish this. Speed can be especially critical with sensitive and delicate items, or items that are needed in a hurry because staff members are waiting on them. Part of expediting can require negotiating contracts with shipping companies to get the best deals.

The expediter also plays a role in budgeting and accounting. He will have information about the project's budget so he can keep expenditures within the limits and may have advice on controlling costs in other areas of the project. In some cases, the project manager is also responsible for expediting, and will control all aspects of the project, not just the process of moving supplies to where they need to go.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By miriam98 — On Oct 28, 2011

@nony - Anyone who can keep a project on time and on budget is worth his weight in gold in my opinion.

This is the thing that project managers constantly seek to do, but too often fail to do. I only wish that the expediting service was available for the services industry as well as manufacturing.

I work for a software company and we often go over budget unfortunately. I don’t know what an outside firm could do to help. Perhaps we could take a page out of the playbook of the expediter and learn a few things and teach them to our developers.

But it would be a challenge. It’s easier to work with manufactured goods than digital goods. They’re easier to make, and to quantify.

By nony — On Oct 28, 2011

@Charred - Computer software can’t do everything. There is a quality control element to this business. These people visit sites and inspect the items to make sure that they are up to snuff.

This is not a computerized task. I imagine that you might need some training in ISO 9001 or some other quality control standards to ensure that you have the proper qualifications to do a good job.

I am speaking of outside firms here who want to offer this as a service. Internally expediters may just be project managers who are familiar with the goods.

At any rate, a lot rides on your shoulders if you’re the expediter, especially if a bad shipment heads out the door on your watch.

By Charred — On Oct 27, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - Knowing how to work the transportation routes would be essential in expedited delivery I would think.

I think of a company like Federal Express, which has established a network of hubs and connection points throughout the United States, to get stuff delivered on time, every time.

I imagine that if you are in the expediting business, you would have to set up alternate routes for shipping your supplies in case one of those routes becomes stopped up.

You would need to know the lay of the land quite well, and I agree that computer software would come in handy here.

By SkyWhisperer — On Oct 26, 2011

I can certainly see the usefulness of expedited services in production planning where you are dealing with deliverables that have to be moved down a supply chain.

I think logistics planning inside an organization can accomplish the same results without the need to hire an outside expediting firm. However, assuming you don’t have a team in place for logistics management, an expediter would do the job.

While the article doesn’t say, I also guess that they would need some advanced computer software to track the movement and shipment of supplies and determine if there are any bottlenecks anywhere that need to be dealt with.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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