Expediting for Timely Delivery of Products and Services

Purchasing is garnering increasing attention from top management due to its significant impact on profitability and supply chain performance. The purchasing process comprises six key steps: specification, supplier selection, contracting, ordering, expediting, and follow-up. In this article, I delve into the expediting process to ensure prompt delivery of products and services.

Even after placing an order, various challenges can arise until the correct product, in the right quantity, is received in optimal condition, at the designated location, and on time. In the absence of a perfect world, the expediting function becomes indispensable to ensure the timely delivery of products and services, demanding considerable efforts from the buyer.

Expediting can be categorised into three types. Routine expediting aims to prevent shortages by prompting suppliers to confirm delivery dates a few days before the promised date. Field expediting involves conducting inspections at critical moments for critical parts or suppliers with tight quality tolerances. Exception expediting, however, is reactive and is initiated only when there’s a signal of an impending material shortage, a practice not recommended for proactive supply chain management.

Furthermore, the physical delivery of goods must be meticulously checked to ensure compliance with specifications. Vendor rating, quantifying supplier performance in terms of price, quality, and delivery reliability, is crucial for controlling and enhancing supplier performance. Given the vast amount of administrative data involved, automation becomes imperative.


Lessons Learned

The foundation of expediting excellence rests on three pillars: processes, people, and measurement.

Effective expediting relies on processes that are correct, consistent, complete, and clear (C4). Any systematic issues or high staff turnover should prompt management to review existing expediting processes, as research suggests that few processes meet the C4 criteria.

Expediting staff should adopt a proactive approach rather than resorting to constant firefighting. Regular follow-up meetings with purchasing to address poor supplier delivery performance are essential. Persistence is key, and inadequate responses from suppliers should be promptly escalated up the chain of command. Exploring alternative options to alleviate shortage problems, such as seeking substitute products or alternative suppliers, is vital.

Measuring supplier performance is crucial, whether through manual or automated tracking of expected delivery times. For those overseeing transportation, the supplier’s ship date can serve as a reliable measure of delivery performance.

Lastly, it’s important to consider the positioning of the expediting function within the company. Whether it falls under purchasing, production planning and scheduling, or is outsourced to a logistics service provider managing the supply chain, clarity is paramount. Expediting should not be left to suppliers’ discretion but treated as a core competency to ensure efficient supply chain operations.


Dr. Marco Tieman

CEO, LBB International