When I was doing my PMP preparations and I came to know these terms and to be honest these were really 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 take or enforce any decision. The Project Coordinator does the same job but have some authority to make some decisions and also can enforce his decisions somehow.
Read More: What is Project Management?
The most important factor to be considered while making any project management plan is the structure of the organization 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.
A project expediter isn’t a usual type of project manager that we may assign with projectized organization but as the word itself implies it is more of 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.
In contrast, Project coordinators have slight power and authority so he/she can provide decisions on some of the matters pertaining to project milestones.
Project coordinators are more focused on monitoring and controlling a project management plan and are reporting to the project manager.
Roles of project expediter and project coordinator looks 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 sort of decision making power, whereas the project coordinator has got some authority and can provide decisions on some matters.
- For bigger projects, project expediter is most of the time-limited to coordinating communications with different vendors for timely delivery of goods. In contrast, the project coordinator is more of a helping hand for a project manager in monitoring and controlling processes of the project management plan.
- 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 very limited decision making power.
As already explained earlier both project expeditor and coordinator are reporting to project manager 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 for timely delivery of 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 project manager.
- Preparation of project progress report (to be approved by the project manager)
- Project plan execution and close monitoring in view of the approved project plan.
- Advise the project manager regarding a possible improvement to achieve major milestones.
- Close monitoring of cost and time schedule in view 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 so they can make decisions up to a certain level above which he also has to take permission from the project manager.
Project expediter and coordinator roles only exist in weak matrix organizations. As in a strong matrix or projectized organization, there is a full-time project manager available with full administrative and decision making authority. In contrast, there will always be a project manager available in a balanced matrix organization but he definitely will not be as powerful and authoritative as he will be more dependent on the functional manager for the allocation of human resources and funding.
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Further Reads: Project Manager Interview Questions