Determining the product mix using multi-criteria decision making
At present, many manufacturing companies face with the problem of setting their production plans taking into account existing liming factors that can be of both internal and external nature. This task is known as determining the product mix – the scope and volumes of products that should be manufactured and sold. Solution of this task is a decision making process: it is necessary to select an optimal (regarding one or several criteria) combination of products and their production volumes. The paper focuses on two approaches dealing with the product mix task. One of the approaches is based on management accounting calculations: the product mix is selected to maximize profitability, by ranking the products according to their contribution-earning ability per unit of the limiting factor. Certain limitations of the management accounting approach are the problems with forecasted assumptions, using only financial considerations, ignoring the degree of preference of one product in comparison with another, as well as missing information about possible states of the external environment. Another approach relies on multi-criteria decision making methods and expert estimates. This approach allows decision makers to take into account non-financial factors, including qualitative information, as well as to consider the power of distinction between products and environmental aspects. In the paper it is argued that combination of the two approaches may be used within common task of determining the product mix. The combined approach supported by appropriate information systems makes the decision making process more efficient and justifiable.