By Rosita Johnson
In today's fast-paced business environment, efficient procurement and supply chain management are essential for the success of any organization. Among the various components of this process, order tracking and expediting hold significant importance. By closely monitoring orders and expediting their delivery, companies can ensure the smooth flow of materials and services, minimize disruptions, and meet project deadlines. However, despite its importance, order tracking and expediting often remain undervalued, with insufficient investment in staffing, systems, and tools. In this blog, we will explore the significance of order tracking and expediting in the end-to-end supply chain process, highlighting ASCI’s experience in utilizing different team structures and streamlining processes for maximum efficiency.
Over the past two decades, we at ASCI have recognized the need for tailored approaches to order tracking and expediting based on the nature of contracts. For positions dealing with low transactional volume, typically involving expensive and complex parts and equipment, positions such as Material Coordinators were responsible for tracking their own orders from initiation to completion. On the other hand, contracts or teams with high volume and low-value materials and supplies necessitated dedicated resources to prioritize and review a large number of orders on a daily or weekly basis. By identifying these specific needs, we ensured that the right level of attention was given to this important step in the procurement process, optimizing efficiency and effectiveness. There are many reasons we took order tracking and expediting, which we often referred to as just “Expediting,” so seriously and continue to do it on our contracts that involve material coordination and procurement.
Facilitating Effective Communication and Collaboration
In complex projects involving multiple departments, such as engineering, planning, contracting, logistics, and accounting, order tracking and expediting play a vital role as intermediaries. Materials management positions, like the ones we have held on contracts for Prudhoe Bay operations & maintenance and capital projects support, act as a bridge between various stakeholders. They utilize tracking tools such as SmartTracker facilitate effective communication, ensuring that accurate and timely ordering of materials and services takes place. By keeping all departments informed about order statuses and potential delays, they enable proactive decision-making and timely adjustments in project plans.
Ensuring Timely Project Execution
Timeliness is crucial in project execution, and order tracking and expediting directly contribute to this aspect. Our company's experience on one of our larger contracts highlights the critical role played by a dedicated team of Purchasing Expeditors. By closely monitoring open purchase orders and focusing on past due and upcoming due dates, these expeditors ensured that materials were not lost in transit or accidently cancelled on the supplier’s end. In urgent situations, expeditors collaborates with vendors and carriers to expedite shipments, guaranteeing the timely delivery of materials to the project site. Such proactive measures prevent project delays and maintain a smooth workflow.
Maintaining Optimal Inventory Levels
Another aspect where order tracking and expediting prove their importance is inventory management. For example, one of our current contracts requires us to maintain a 90-day supply of regularly ordered items. This requires a meticulous approach to ordering and delivery timelines. By closely tracking orders and expediting when necessary, we can ensure that inventory levels are optimized and that we always have the necessary items on hand. This level of control prevents stock-outs, minimizes excess inventory, and improves overall cost-efficiency.
Enhancing Customer Satisfaction
The ultimate goal of any procurement and supply chain process is to satisfy the needs of the end customer. Effective order tracking and expediting contribute to this goal in several ways. First, by ensuring the timely arrival of materials and services, we meet project deadlines and avoid costly delays. Second, by promptly addressing any issues related to accuracy or quality of shipments, we maintain a high standard of product or service delivery. Finally, by keeping customers informed of any changes or delays in their orders, we demonstrate transparency and build trust. These factors collectively enhance customer satisfaction and contribute to long-term business relationships.
Striking a Balance: Evaluating Expedited Shipments
It is crucial for organizations to strike a balance when it comes to expediting shipments. While expediting can be necessary to meet project deadlines or address urgent needs, it often incurs additional costs compared to regular shipping methods. By reviewing expedited shipment statistics regularly, organizations can gain valuable insights into their expediting practices. This analysis can help identify patterns or trends that may indicate underlying issues. For instance, if certain vendors consistently deliver late, it may be necessary to reassess the reliability of those suppliers or explore alternative options. Additionally, if the order tracking process is reactive rather than proactive, with order statuses being checked too close to the estimated delivery date, it may lead to last-minute expediting requests and increased costs.
Order tracking and expediting play integral roles in the procurement and supply chain process, ensuring the accurate and timely acquisition of goods and services, maintaining optimal inventory levels, and meeting project deadlines. These functions facilitate effective communication, expedite shipments when necessary, and address any issues that may arise, resulting in improved efficiency, minimized disruptions, and a superior customer experience. Implementing robust processes and procedures for order tracking and expediting is essential for organizations aiming to excel in today's highly competitive business landscape.
However, it is crucial to exercise caution when relying excessively on expediting shipments. Striking a balance between meeting project deadlines and controlling costs is paramount. It is important for companies to evaluate their expediting practices thoroughly and address any gaps in the procurement and order tracking process. By doing so, organizations can optimize their supply chain operations and ensure that expedited shipments are used judiciously and strategically. This approach allows for efficient resource allocation, avoiding unnecessary expenses, while still meeting customer expectations and maintaining operational effectiveness.
ASCI specializes in helping businesses like yours to address supply chain management challenges, including order tracking and expediting services. Visit our website to learn more and to arrange for a free consultation.