BLOG:  Digital Financial Reporting

This is a blog for information relating to digital financial reporting.  This blog is basically my "lab notebook" for experimenting and learning about XBRL-based digital financial reporting.  This is my brain storming platform.  This is where I think out loud (i.e. publicly) about digital financial reporting. This information is for innovators and early adopters who are ushering in a new era of accounting, reporting, auditing, and analysis in a digital environment.

Much of the information contained in this blog is synthasized, summarized, condensed, better organized and articulated in my book XBRL for Dummies and in the chapters of Intelligent XBRL-based Digital Financial Reporting. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

FRF for SMEs™ Ontology

Successful engineering is all about understanding how and why things break or fail so that all issues can be fixed so that ultimately nothing breaks or fails.  I have spent 10 years breaking things and understanding failures in order to understand how to not let them break/fail.

As I mentioned in another blog post, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) publishes a free, open reporting framework for small and medium sized companies that report but are not required to use US GAAP. That financial reporting framework is called FRF for SMEs™.  This short video explains the framework. This is a brief description of the framework provided by the AICPA:

The FRF for SMEs framework provides efficient, meaningful financial statements without needless complexity or cost for those SMEs that are not required to issue GAAP-based reports. The FRF for SMEs framework is a cost-beneficial solution for owner-managers and others who need financial statements that are prepared in a consistent and reliable manner in accordance with a framework that has undergone public comment and professional scrutiny. The accounting principles composing the FRF for SMEs reporting option are intended to be the most appropriate for the preparation of small business financial statements based on the needs of the financial statement users and cost-benefit considerations. Accounting principles in the FRF for SMEs framework are responsive to the well-documented issues and concerns stakeholders currently encounter when preparing financial statements for small private businesses.

I am going to create a high-quality XBRL taxonomy (really an ontology-like thing) for FRF for SMEs; FRF for SMEs Ontology.

The FRF for SMEs Ontology will follow the informally described open source framework that I created but more importantly it will also follow the OMG's upcoming Standard Business Report Model (SBRM).  I will use this ontology to both exercise and test the SBRM.

Why am I doing this?

There are a number of reasons that I am creating this FRF for SMEs ontology:

  • To synthesize 20 years of learning.
  • The reporting framework is freely available and documentation is good.
  • There are 20 million potential users of the framework (not sure how many companies actually use the reporting scheme).
  • The reporting scheme has all of the variability characteristics of US GAAP and IFRS.
  • To provide an ultra high quality XBRL taxonomy that can be used to raise questions about the approach taken by the very important US GAAP XBRL Taxonomy and IFRS XBRL Taxonomy.
  • To help software vendors get their heads around XBRL-based digital financial reporting.
  • To provide the metadata for a software application that I am helping to create called Pesseract.  Pesseract is an expert system for constructing a financial report.
  • To help some additional software vendors tune their software.
  • To help people see the possibilities of having high-quality curated metadata.
  • To help people compare and contrast different approaches to creating XBRL taxonomies.
  • To help introduce the benefits of XBRL-based reports to private companies.
  • To provide information for academics to study.
  • To create a complete system that works for those 20 million private companies to report to banks in support of commercial loans.

If you don't know why you might want to get involved in this project, you might want to read this document. If you want to get involved, contact me via email or LinkedIn.  If you have any suggestions or questions, I am always looking for good ideas.

If you want to follow the blog posts related to the FRF for SMEs, follow this category on my blog.

You don't need to understand anything about XBRL to contribute to this project.  All you need to do is have an understanding of financial reporting.  Professional accountants can both learn and contribute by creating a podcast, creating a YouTube video, creating commentary about or interpretations of FRF for SMEs, making sure the information in the ontology is correctly conveyed, providing examples of reporting use cases that need to be provided for by the ontology, etc.  Again, contact me if interested.

Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at 04:12PM by Registered CommenterCharlie in | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Bragg's Laws of Accounting

Steven M. Bragg, CPA, author of GAAP Guidebook (which is an excellent resource) publishes a series of podcasts related to accounting topics, The Accounting Best Practices Podcast.

Here is one podcast example, Bragg's Laws of Accounting.

Here is a podcast on XBRL, XBRL Tagging.

Here is a podcast on Artificial Intelligence: How AI might impact the accounting department.

Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at 02:40PM by Registered CommenterCharlie in | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Recognizing Three XBRL Taxonomy Creation Approaches

When you want to represent a reporting scheme within an XBRL taxonomy; I am recognizing that there are three XBRL taxonomy creation approaches.  I have documented the three approaches in this PDF.  The following is an explanation of the essence of each of the three approaches:

  • Top-Down XBRL Taxonomy Creation Approach: You start by listing all the topics of a reporting scheme; you then list each of the possible disclosures for each of those topics; you create the networks into which each disclosure will be placed in the XBRL taxonomy; you create the report elements that will be used to represent the disclosures; you create the rules used to explain and verify against the explanation for each disclosure; you create a template to test each of the disclosures; and you finally create a reference implementation which combines all of the templates to test to be sure the disclosures interact with one another appropriately and that there are no inconsistencies or contradictions.
  • Bottom-up XBRL Taxonomy Creation Approach: You start by creating the primitive report elements which will be used to create each disclosure; next you organize those report elements into individual disclosures; then you organize each of the disclosures into XBRL networks and topics to help you work with the many individual disclosures.  Again, you test by creating a template for each individual disclosure and then you combine a set of templates which would be used together into a reference implementation to test the entire XBRL taxonomy.
  • Iteration XBRL Taxonomy Creation Approach: You start by generally taking an existing XBRL taxonomy, templates, reference implementation, list of disclosures, list of topics, rules, etc., all of which are known to work correctly; you then modify that existing XBRL taxonomy by adding, deleting, or editing its pieces until you turn the existing XBRL taxonomy pieces into what it is that you want.  (This might seem like a bit of an odd approach, but if you really think about this approach it actually makes a lot of sense.)

Note that when I say "XBRL Taxonomy" I am really talking about creating an ontology-like thing which is explained here using this open source framework.

Posted on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at 12:19PM by Registered CommenterCharlie | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Financial Reporting Framework for SMEs

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) publishes a financial reporting framework, Financial Reporting Framework for SMEs.  Documentation for the framework can be found here.  I created a prototype XBRL taxonomy for this framework way back in 2013.  I might have another look at that.

OK, so here is the beginnings of a machine-readable ontology that describes how to create a report using FRF for SMEs.

Much more to come, so stay tuned! Follow this blog category to stay informed. (Note that this US GAAP Financial Report Ontology is an example of where the FRF for SMEs is going)

Posted on Friday, August 9, 2019 at 12:46PM by Registered CommenterCharlie in | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

From Novice to Expert

Patricia Benner created a model for the professional development of nurses in an American Journal of Nursing article, From Novice to Expert.  That model is generalized to other professionals and is summarized here: 

  • Novice: Has no professional experience.
  • Beginner: Can note recurrent meaningful situational components, but not prioritize between them.
  • Competent: Begins to understand actions in terms of long-range goals.
  • Proficient: Perceives situations as wholes, rather than in terms of aspects.
  • Expert: Has intuitive grasp of the situation and zeros in on the accurate region of the problem.

This model is depicted graphically as the following:

(Click image for larger view)

Janet Salmons is an independent scholar and provides a pedagogy of book and chapter organization.  She points out that readers look for different types of knowledge:

  • Factual: Basic terminology, major ideas and thinkers in the field.
  • Conceptual: Interrelated principles and theories.
  • Procedural: How-to steps.
  • Metacognitive: Strategic and self-knowledge (awareness of one's own thought process; thinking about thinking).

This is summarized graphically here:

(Click image for larger view)

Pedagogy is the science and art of education and learning theory.  Pedagogy is about creating an educational process that will lead to knowledge transfer to a learner. Andragogy is the art and science of teaching adults.  Open pedagogy is that set of teaching and learning practices only possible in the context of the free access and the "4Rs" (reuse, revise, remix, redistribute) permissions characteristic of open educational resources.

Pedagogy has to do with the strategy of how content is presented to the learner, the assets needed to present the content, creating a cognitive psychology based learning process, evaluation of the learning process, which yields feedback useful in preparing new content for learning:

(Click image for larger view)

In order to teach a learner effectively, an understanding of the content to be taught plus a knowledge of how o teach is necessary.

(See slide 8 in the presentation)

Vanderbuilt University Center for Teaching provides a plethora of resources related to teaching.  I think I will use these resources to improve Intelligent XBRL-based Digital Financial Reporting.

Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 10:22AM by Registered CommenterCharlie in | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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