28 April 2011

How to make the best of the (fill in the blank) XBRL situation

From Twitter: @mwillis001: How to make the best of the XBRL situation. PwC Webinar, May 11 2pm EST ... http://bit.ly/en84ki

Now, some people might expect me to say something like "How to make the best of the XBRL situation". After all, the "XBRL situation" could be described as an avalanche of mandate rushing downhill, about to crash over those nice little American businesses all standing around with theirs cups of hot chocolate by the ski lifts. Okay, maybe not, after all, it will be in July and August that more than 8000 companies will produce XBRL for the first time and provide it to the SEC. I just could not bring myself to use the tsunami metaphor.

Regardless, there is a significant additional reporting burden arriving, and all the
wishing won't make it go away. And that means that business must get ready.

How to make the best of the (fill in the blank) XBRL situation:  So to jump directly to my suggestion, then you can read the rest is you want, is for filers to download and read the
2011 XBRL Buyer's Guide. No decisions should be made based on one single factor, but on a balance of the factors that matter most to the situation and needs of the company.

But now, back to the my stream...

I was just bemused to see one of the greatest advocates for XBRL and the first Chairman of the XBRL International Steering Committee actually promote a webinar call "How to make the best of..." anything. To me, "how to make the best" has always been one of those phrases that is linked with "of a bad situation".

I for one do not think that XBRL is a bad situation, but is it a situation of significant additional cost to business.
raas-XBRL, my firm, provides inexpensive production of XBRL for SEC registrants. We're proud of what we do, how we do it, and the fact that we use state-of-the-art software that is the best and most intuitive by far. (And I've been looking at this stuff since 2003).

So what are the "situations"?

We keep hearing estimates of 80 or more hours to produce the first "block tagged" XBRL. We think this is crazy.
We consider 10 hours to be plenty of time. Also, we think that 4 hours of review, for the vast majority of companies, is plenty of time.

Learning a new technology. Why? How much time did you spend learning PDF?

Implementing specialized software. Frankly, I expect virtually all accounting and reporting packages, regardless of their size, to be including XBRL as an output format within the next three to four years. And the great news with this is that only the worst laggards will have XBRL as an output format only. I also fully expect accounting and reporting software to be pushing XBRL deeper into the process, so that information is linked to appropriate company specific (or industry standard) taxonomies from the point of initial entry of the information. This will allow the information to be tracked all the way through the process.

So XBRL is going to deliver significant business process improvements. Eventually.

But today vendors are suggesting that you should not wait until your existing accounting and reporting systems cater for XBRL, but you should invest potentially tens of thousands in new systems or replacement systems, simply so that you can avoid spending a far more modest amount of money to "make the problem go away".

But of course, its not a problem, is it? It is a "situation".

So I also recommend you attend the PwC Webinar on May 11, so that you too can learn "How to make the best of the XBRL situation".

1 comment:

  1. Tagging is first step to challenge discribe company value using system communicative language.
    So it must be different from learning PDF.

    If companies could communicate with investors or stake holders using XBRL, they will beleive that those effort was necessary.

    However, if company can not communicate adequately using it, they should feel it waste time and money even it were $10.