Message from XBRL US Conference: Sweat the Details
Friday, September 14, 2012 at 06:32AM
Charlie in Creating Investor Friendly SEC XBRL Filings

I did not go to the XBRL US Conference in Austin, but from what I have heard and from what Rob Blake says on his blog, there is increasing focus on SEC XBRL financial filing quality.  Here is a part of Rob's blog post (you can get to the entire post here):

SWEAT THE DETAILS:  Being active and engaged in the XBRL review process is one thing.  Understanding all the moving and required parts of the review itself is another.  Much attention was given to helping companies “see beneath the content” and better understand the various aspects of an XBRL submission that need to be reviewed.  “Feel good” reviews comparing the XBRL to the HTML need to be supplemented with a detailed and thorough (dare I say Complete…=) review of the signage/calculation structure of the XBRL as well as the information contained in the extension taxonomy.  Companies that currently place the primary review responsibility on external service providers with little to no direct activity need to change the model immediately to bring a large portion of the review process in-house.  Now is a really good time to sweat the details around an XBRL submission.

For those who have been following my blog you know that I have been harping about quality for a number of years. The need for "quality" is going to become a buzz word which people throw around, saying that they can do "quality" and others cannot in order to sell their software.

Don't let software vendors fool you.  Ask good questions.  Educate yourself. I can tell you from first hand knowledge that most software vendors cannot yet deliver on this promise of quality yet.  Zero.  If they could, I would see that fact in the results of my analysis of SEC XBRL financial reports.  Some software vendors are better that other software vendors in certain specific areas.  For example, if you look at something like the XBRL CLoud EDGAR Dashboard, look in the columns marked "E" for Edgar Filer Manual and US GAAP Taxonomy Architecture validation.  That is the tip of the verification iceberg!  Some software vendors don't even get that right yet.

Like Blake says, "feel good" reviews and less than complete reviews just will not cut it.

My document Guide to Verification of an SEC XBRL Financial Report helps you see what a complete review looks like.  It also helps you understand what to expect from software to help you.  Further, you don't need to be dealing with XBRL technical syntax at all.  Literally, not at all.  Good software will hide the XBRL technical syntax and allow you to focus where you truly need to focus: on the business meaning, on the semantics.

Just ask yourself one simple question: How do you know that your SEC financial filing is a true and fair representation of your entities financial information and what evidence do you have to prove that?  Ask software vendors and filing agents that question and have them walk you through exactly how they do that.  The guide above helps you understand the details of "true and fair".

Software vendors love uneducated customers, they are easy to sell to.  Don't be an uneducated customer though.  Become consciously competent as soon as you can. 

You know that for digital financial reporting to really work, business users must be able to successfully be able to create and prove to themselves and other business users that digital financial reports such as SEC XBRL financial reports are true and fair representation of their financial information. We will end up there.  May as well get their sooner rather than later.

Article originally appeared on Intelligent XBRL-based structured digital financial reporting using US GAAP and IFRS (http://xbrl.squarespace.com/).
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