The December 2008 announcement by the SEC has been reason for celebration in the XBRL community, especially among the smaller software vendors who've been looking forward to this reporting standard to be mandated for quite some time now. We should begin to see the big software vendors like IBM, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft jockeying for position as their customers begin XBRL reporting rollouts. However, it will soon be sometime before we see consolidation in this marketplace. Even though XBRL 's been around considering that the late 90's, it's only the recent SEC mandate and to a lesser degree, the roadmap for adoption of the IFRS standard, that is fueling the current interest in XBRL reporting. In talking to CFOs, COOs, and Accountants of both public and regulatory companies, I'm finding that there's still confusion about where to start with an in-house XBRL implementation strategy, what the main components are, or when to jump on the bandwagon. Furthermore, the needs of public companies are different from the needs of the organizations that regulate them.mca xbrl software
As a Technology-based Solutions Consultant advising and delivering ERP, e-commerce, and Business Intelligence (BI) solutions for big organizations over the past 20+ years, I have experienced first-hand, how easy it is to act as all things to any or all people. A brand new technology evolves, vendors emerge in the room, and although each vendor has their own strength, they often portray themselves as getting the silver bullet, rather than in partnership together to be able to provide the best value for the customer.
In the financial services community, prospective customers of XBRL products and services typically fall within 1 of 2 classes - 1. public or regulated corporations and 2. regulators or other organizations involved in data collection and consolidation. (Let's leave the average investor on the sidelines for now. As their only requirement is to view company reports, they'll have their needs met by free downloadable XBRL report viewers.)
In this first of two articles, I will give attention to the implementation needs of the general public or regulated company. My follow-up article will give attention to the XBRL implementation needs of regulatory organizations.
For companies which have to conform to regulatory bodies, (or private firms that may also be regulated and have to offer reports in XBRL format), the technology enablers for incorporating the XBRL reporting standard to their businesses are available one of the XBRL vendors - UBMatrix, Corefiling, Fujitsu, ABZ Reporting, Rivet software, Coyote Reporting, Snappy Reports, to mention a strong core. (NOTE: I'm not endorsing some of the companies I'm mentioning in this article. I'm just providing them as samples of the vendors in this marketplace.)
XBRL integration is fundamentally a three-step process. Import/extend a taxonomy (a business rules data dictionary) which creates the XBRL "tags" for the reporting structure; run your computer data through the tagging process, using your taxonomy; finally, render the info in a user-readable format.xbrl software price
The XBRL vendors have created three automated off-the-shelf products to assist you complete these steps with minimal pain:
1. Taxonomy Designer - which provides a user-friendly online interface to enable you to build, import, and extend reporting taxonomies. This really is your "tagging" tool. And there are a wide variety of these tagging tools out there. You may also find a totally free one knowing where you can look. I recommend you buy a Taxonomy Designer that's drag-and-drop capability and enables you to import and extend a foundation taxonomy that is downloadable from the Internet or provided for you by an associated company or regulatory body. Make certain this tool also is sold with built-in taxonomy validation at both the beds base and extension level.
2. Processing Engine - which uses your taxonomy to essentially map the conversion of reporting data from text, CSV, Excel, HTML, XML, etc. format into XBRL. I suggest purchasing an engine that offers two-way conversion. So starting with XBRL, you are able to convert back to whatever source you began with, or to some other standard format. Search for an Engine with built-in data validation functionality or ensure that data validation comes bundled together with your Report Builder (next step), i.e., to flag unbalanced accounts. This could save you plenty of manual effort and frustration.
3. Report Builder - enables you to render (display) XBRL "instance" documents", or individual financial reports in a user-friendly format for the web, in PDF, or to MS Excel or Word formats, etc. Again, this requires your taxonomy as input, along with the report data, to be able to render the report in a format that folks can read. These report builders differ a lot in terms of functionality. Some provide web rendering capability only; some render in multiple formats including Word, Excel, and PDF; others provide parameter-driven comparison capability. Be clear on the functionality you need. This puts you in a position to negotiate the price tag on the tool you finally select.