If you don’t know what the job of Expediting is, you can read more here (What is Expediting?) Essentially, in the world of purchasing and supply chain, expediting means to ensure purchase order goods can meet expected delivery dates. Many smaller companies have expediting as an additional duty of a purchasing officer, whilst larger companies, such as mining giants, usually have dedicated expediting personnel to ensure the timely flow of goods for their projects. My role has predominately been in what is known as 'desk' expediting, which is exactly how it sounds, with lots of phone calls, emails, and running of reports.
I quite like my job as an Expediter (Expeditor?). Although challenging with strict deadlines, I enjoy the problem-solving element and frequent interactions with with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders in the process (e.g. suppliers, logistics & 3rd Party Logistics providers, Accounts, Engineers etc).
BUT...Recently, while doing an internet search of the term ‘expediting’, I found many articles sprinkled with statements that the process ‘doesn’t really add value’ (e.g. Supply Chain Mechanic - Managing Your Procurement's Expediting Process), and is essentially a ‘NON-VALUE ADDING activity’ (e.g. WikiHow - Why is Expediting Considered a Non Value Adding Activity).
OUCH! I have likely taken this out of context, and I certainly shouldn’t take this too personally, but it does hurt a little bit to hear that your full-time job is not considered of any great value ☹ sniff.
NONETHELESS, It certainly did get me thinking about how much my role adds value to an organization.
Before putting forward MY point, I will concede that there are TWO instances in which the expediting process is a non-value adding activity. First is when the process is not performed properly, as in any job! Yes, there are dud expeditors out there, some who limit their job to ‘fighting fires’ as they arise. Second, I hear expediting tends to be classed as non-value adding activity in an ‘accounting’ context, which still hurts a bit regardless, it would be nice if they could class it as something else. ☺
On the positive side, this gives me a chance to put forward why I believe Expediting IS a VALUE adding activity. I believe it has a value adding effect that is not only felt across an organization but in the supply chain as a whole. This, to me, makes it an essential function for every organization (and I’ll never be out of a job, win-win!), and not an activity that should be classed as non-value adding.
I'll give you 7 Reasons why I believe (Good) Expediting is value adding:
1. $$$ It Frees up Resources: e.g. If goods ordered for a job arrive in a timely fashion, the job can be finished and that labor can be allocated to other jobs, instead of waiting around for a part to show up. Further, resources are also freed up by reducing the amount of emails and phone calls from internal (e.g. accounts) or external customers chasing invoices/receipts/goods.
2. $$$ It Improves the flow of the supply network: e.g. Expediting ensures stakeholders throughout the supply chain (e.g. suppliers, logistics, stores) are consistently ‘on the ball’ in regards to orders. Not only material flow improves, but information flow also, for example many suppliers proactively provide reports and updates on an organization’s outstanding orders.
3. $$$ It Improves Forecasting/Planning: e.g. Good Expediting can drastically improve visibility and therefore assist inventory forecasting/demand planning, leading to much less requirement for holding extra inventory such as safety stock.
4. $$$ It Provides measures for supplier performance: e.g. it provides helpful delivery performance reporting that can be useful to other departments, such as contract managers wishing to bring up issues with the supplier at their next meeting.
5. $$$ It Reduces the need of expensive alternative sources: With consistent Expediting, there is less need to go grovelling to that OTHER supplier that gladly charges at a premium.
6. $$$ It Reduces the need for costly express freight: e.g. A good Expediting process means less chance of having to airfreight spare parts in by a express expedited freight in a gold-plated flying truck (not that I have ever done this).
7. $$$ It Exposes INTERNAL issues: e.g. A common perception of Expediting is "The suppliers are always late, tell them to hurry up". But it is definitely not always the suppliers' fault. In fact, MANY of the issues can lie internally. Expediting uncovers these internal issues e.g. the supplier has delivered the order but there are long delays in the stores to receipt the goods. Or even, the supplier never received the order in the first place due to an internal system fault. Or further, there is a communication issue where multiple departments are communicating with the supplier in regards to an order, causing confusion amongst everyone.
In a general sense, I believe that ANY role, that is performed to its optimum level, makes everyone else’s job easier, and that in itself is value adding.
I feel much better now! I have blurted some valid reasons of how my Expediting job adds value. Try it sometime with your own role.
One thing I can't tell you is if the correct spelling of my job title is Expediter or Expeditor, (google can't even tell me that). But I won't waste any time finding out answer, as, like checking Facebook regularly, that is a non-value adding activity.
Guest Article from a REAL Expeditor! on ProcurementCourse.com