XBRL is rapidly becoming the global standard for the representation of business, financial and accounting information. Its value proposition for data consumers – regulators, investors, analysts – and for the market as a whole is clear: process efficiencies (and related cost savings) and data transparency. These benefits are crucial also for data producers – businesses and not-for profit organizations – and arguably even more so. Whether data producers can actually leverage XBRL to achieve those benefits depends on the way in which they deploy XBRL internally.
This typically varies from “no deployment at all” for entities that are not subject to an XBRL mandate, to “only to the extent that allows us to comply with the mandate” for those who are. Of course there are many exceptions out there – and some entities, large and small, have shared their stories. The fact remains that the vast majority of businesses, even when they recognize the extraordinary benefits that XBRL can bring to internal data monitoring, auditing and reporting, have been slow to adopt it internally. They think that it is too difficult to learn and too innovative. They do not believe that there is enough guidance and best practices available to help them. Small and medium businesses do not even have XBRL on their radar – either they are not aware of it at all or they believe it is only relevant for compliance reporting and for large, global enterprises.
The reality is that XBRL is a Business Reporting Supply Chain standardization effort – and that means internal and external reporting, data integration/consolidation, auditing, and data monitoring. XBRL has been designed to enable re-engineering manual, inefficient data-related processes into automated ones, and achieve significant cost savings for businesses of any size, in any industry. Embedding XBRL deeply into an entity’s information system and day-to-day data related activities is easier than you think and can bring significant benefits in a limited time, without significantly changing (or adding to) the existing set of software applications in use and for an investment that is a fraction of the cost of purchasing and deploying yet another proprietary solution to the same problems. In this context, creating XBRL compliance filings more efficiently, for those businesses that require it, is only a happy by-product of a much broader value proposition.
That is our mission – making deeply-embedded XBRL a reality within reach of any business, large or small.