Project Expeditor vs Project Coordinator

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.

By definition, anyone amongst Project Manager, Project Expediter and Project Coordinator can execute a project management plan.

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.

Matrix organizations, as can be seen in the above table are kind of a mix of functional and projectized organizations. It can be categorized as weak, balanced, or strong all 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 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.

Project Coordinator

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.

Main Difference

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 none of the 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.

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 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 Expeditor)

  • 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.

Conclusion

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.


One Small Request:

Being a Project Management guy, I know how little time we have to play around on the internet. But if you have found this information useful then please share it to your colleague so that more people can get benefit from it. If you have any question then comment below and I am glad to take it.


Further Reads: Project Manager Interview Questions 

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