Important questions include what systems are appropriate and how they can be used for maximum efficiency. Equally important is to create new knowledge regarding what happens when systems are not used as intended and what consequences that can bring.
Many businesses, organizations and business leaders wanting to be creative and innovative need the appropriate system for sorting their flows of information. In today’s information-rich society, sometimes the biggest problem is that there is so much information available. What should you focus on? What should you opt out of? Building or purchasing management systems is very costly and includes radical change procedures.
“As I see it, it’s necessary to tailor solutions for different phases of a company’s development cycle. Needs are different in a small startup company compared to larger listed companies or companies operating in different industries. A concrete example is, for example, ways in which a company should utilize its production capacity. If the company can determine which products are most profitable, they can prioritize these over other, less profitable products. But it’s important to have that information readily available, otherwise it will be merely guesswork. With the right priorities, the company becomes profitable and can invest in innovation and product development.”
There are different situation variables that can be used to determine more or less suitable solutions. Using these as a starting point, you can then work to tailor the information system to suit the company.
“There are different philosophies that claim they provide universal answers as to how a company will achieve success; ‘Do this and you will succeed’. But I want to raise a note of caution regarding these kind of quick-fix-theories, they rarely work. It’s far from obvious that a large complex system solves all problems, that is why it’s important to analyze the needs and then build the system from there.”
Another important issue is what information should be communicated externally, for example, in annual reports. What information is requested by stakeholders to evaluate their engagement in the company.
“There is a framework for what needs to be communicated but at the same time, companies can pretty much choose how to present the information. Also, here there is a trend towards ever-broader information content that can be challenging to manage.”
A large part of Anders Hersinger’s research is done in collaboration with companies and organizations, which ensures he gets the best of both worlds.
"At Luleå University of Technology, we have a tradition of research in collaboration with companies. I have also had assignments for periods of time outside the university. I am always tempted to come back, not by others but by myself. It’s a privilege to work in the way that we do within the university framework."
Two larger current projects are in cooperation with LKAB regarding their investment project and production processes in the Malmfälten area. One of the issues is how economists operate in technically oriented development projects designed by and for engineers. The second project highlights to what extent that engineers in production are helped when they have access to financial information. How decisions will be made and to what extent they will be based on financial information. And if decisions are not determined based on an economic horizon, what is then the basis for the decisions? How much is based on intuition and experience from similar projects?
“This is a project that is on the boundary between economics and technology, which is exciting as there are great opportunities for development,” concludes Anders Hersinger.
Anders Hersinger teaches strategic financial management and supervises dissertations and theses in accounting and management at various levels.