Project Expediter vs Project Coordinator

When I was doing my PMP preparations, I came to know these terms, and to be honest; these were confusing for me. But later on, all was crystal clear as I get to know the more about organizational structures.

Both project expediter and project coordinator are reporting to the project manager in any organization.

The main difference is Project expediter works as a staff assistant and cannot make or enforce any decision. The Project Coordinator does the same job but has some authority to make some decisions and implement his decisions somehow.

Read More: What is Project Management?

The most important factor to be considered while making any project management plan is the organization’s structure as it ultimately affects the allocation of resources and dictates how the project should be executed. Organizational structures range from functional to projectized, with a variety of matrix structure, as shown below in the table.

Project Characteristics/Organization structureFunctionalWeek MatrixBalanced MatrixStrong MatrixProjectized
Project Manager’s AuthorityLittle/noneLowLow to ModerateModerate to HighHigh to almost total
Resource AvailabilityLittle/noneLowLow to ModerateModerate to HighHigh to almost total
Who manages the Project BudgetFunctional ManagerFunctional ManagerMixedProject ManagerProject Manager
Project Manager’s RolePart-timePart-TimeFull TimeFull TimeFull Time
Project Management Administrative StaffPart-timePart-TimeFull TimeFull TimeFull Time
As can be seen in the above table, Matrix organizations are a mix of functional and projectized organizations. It can be categorized as weak, balanced, or strong, depending on the amount of authority and influence between functional and project managers. Project Manager is more authoritative and powerful in Projectized and strong matrix organizations. Weak matrix organizations keep most of the features of a functional organization, and the responsibility of a project manager is more of either expeditor or coordinator.

Project Expediter

A project expediter isn’t a usual type of project manager that we may assign with a projectized organization. Still, as the word itself implies, it is more of an assistant and coordinates communication. There is hardly any decision making power with him/her hence can’t make any decisions.

A project expediter most often than not is involved in a communication of project status, taking feedback from different activities from relevant stakeholders and can give his input in discussions but can’t make any decision. A decision usually comes from higher authorities, and he/she is used as a communication medium.

Usually, there are more than one project expediters, and they all report to the project manager.

Project Coordinator

In contrast, Project coordinators have slight power and authority, so he/she can provide decisions on some of the matters about project milestones.

Project coordinators are more focused on monitoring and controlling a project management plan and are reporting to the project manager.

Main Difference

The roles of project expediter and project coordinator look quite similar to each other, but they can be differentiated in some ways such as

  • The project expediter has almost no authority and is not given with any decision making power. In contrast, the project coordinator has got some authority and can provide decisions on some matters.
  • For bigger projects, the project expediter is most of the time-limited coordinating communications with different vendors for the timely delivery of goods. In contrast, the project coordinator is more of a helping hand for a project manager to monitor and control the project management plan’s processes.

Main Similarities

  • Both can exist simultaneously in projectized and strong matrix organizations.
  • Without going into much detail, we can say both are part of a project management plan and project team.
  • Directly or indirectly, both are reporting to the project manager.
  • Both have minimal decision-making power.

As already explained earlier, both project expeditor and coordinator report to the project man, ager, so depending upon the type of activity, the project manager decides which is the right person/role for task assignment. For example, for a project manager working on a project of shopping mall construction, he would probably define the responsibilities of project expeditor and coordinator in the following the way;

Main Responsibilities (Project Expediter)

  • Creation of procurement plan and day to day following up with respective vendors to deliver goods at the main site.
  • Creation of a complete purchase plan according to established company templates.
  • Communication of project status report, approved by the project manager, with relevant stakeholders.

Main Responsibilities (Project Coordinator)

  • Preparation of project progress report.
  • Serve as a lead in the absence of the project manager.
  • Preparation of project progress report (to be approved by the project manager)
  • Project plan execution and close monitoring gave the approved project plan.
  • Advise the project manager regarding a possible improvement to achieve major milestones.
  • Close monitoring of cost and schedule in light of the approved project plan.

Hence we can say that expediter doesn’t have any authority, so we cannot make any decisions or enforce any decisions. Compared to that, Project coordinators are far more powerful and authoritative to make decisions up to a certain level above. He also has to take permission from the project manager.

Conclusion

Project expediter and coordinator roles only exist in weak matrix organizations.  As in a strong matrix or projectized organization, a full-time project manager is available with full administrative and decision making authority.  In contrast, there will always be a project manager available in a balanced matrix organization. Still, he will not be as powerful and authoritative as he will be more dependent on the functional manager to allocate human resources and funding.

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