Put energy into XBRL quality rather than XBRL grumbling

Another article in the Wall Street Journal that highlights the continuing CFO discontent regarding the cost of XBRL v. the benefit.  It’s worth a read.

This dialog bubbled up again this week due to a new report of the state of XBRL, with a focus on its “usefulness and usability for security analysis” from Columbia Business School’s Center for Excellence in Accounting and Security Analysis.


Great pro-XBRL perspective comes (via LinkedIn XBRL  groups) from Mike Willis, XBRL denizen and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.  We featured Mike last month on an XBRL data quality webinar. 

From Mike in LinkedIn in context to the WSJ:

“Here are the actual recommendations from the Columbia Research paper: Specific recommendations: We believe there are several conditions for XBRL to be widely used:

1. The entire XBRL community must find a way to reduce significantly the error rate and unnecessary extensions (company-specific data tags). Some approaches that might achieve this are: providing greater regulatory oversight, potentially requiring an audit of the data, or requiring filers to resolve the error and quality checks communicated to them by XBRL US.

2. Filers should spend the effort they are investing in attempting to destroy the SEC’s XBRL regulation on improving the quality of their own data, as well as on making their own data more useful and accessible to users.

3. XBRL technology development needs to be taken over and run by technologists, rather than accountants and regulators. An alternate and challenging approach to improving the underlying technology would possibly be to partner with the major business information system vendors (like IBM, Oracle and SAP), the key web-based financial information suppliers (like Google and Yahoo) and possibly even the major data aggregators (Bloomberg, CapitalIQ, FactSet and Thomson Reuters) not only to ensure the necessary mapping to the regulatory use of XBRL is as seamless as possible, but, more importantly, to get them to help improve the XBRL technology overall.

Pretty interesting! and or course wildly different than the WSJ headlines.”

From a vendor perspective, I would say this: we are keenly aware of this cost/value ratio. To that, we have a new program fleXBRL that offers clients an XBRL solution that fits their workflow AND pocketbook.  Those are both important considerations.  Learn more here.

Next month we’ll have a webcast showing XBRL in action, Street-side.

Have a great day.

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