XBRL makes it easier to use business reports. Relevant information can be extracted from the report in electronic form, eliminating delays and inaccuracies introduced through re-keying, not to mention the costs associated with proprietary interfaces. XBRL also makes it easier to produce business reports. In fact, digital business reporting will mean information can be transformed into reports that are:
- Completed faster
- More accurate
- Better targeted
Most organizations employ reporting processes that involve days or weeks of effort, in many cases by teams of people. More time is generally spent on the production of reports than on their analysis. Most reports involve at least some re-keying, some reformatting or other manual additions. Organizations must prepare a variety of similar reports since the end users demand information that is related to multiple aspects of business operations.
With XBRL-enabled software (ranging from spreadsheets to enterprise reporting systems), the production of business reports can benefit from:
- a new means of exchanging information between disparate systems
- the capability to reuse or re-purpose reports so that they can be delivered to multiple users in numerous ways
- the ability to automate report production.
The use of standard tags to unmistakably identify reporting concepts means that different systems can acquire and produce reports electronically, without manual intervention or re-keying of information.
Everybody wants accurate information. But accurate information requires time and effort, and therefore money. The time taken to cross-check information, to ensure that source information is up to date, and to determine whether disparate sources of data are using the same definitions contributes to the costs associated with business reporting. Not to mention the effort involved in confirming that re-keyed data, or data that an employee has cut and pasted from paper or other systems, has arrived intact.
Digital business reporting promises to radically improve the means by which business reports are produced.
- Using XBRL tags, information can move from system to system without being re-keyed, radically improving accuracy when collecting data from multiple sources.
- XBRL offers new ways to impose rules on the information being prepared for reports, inside the definitions for those reports. For example, checks for accounting rules (the balance sheet must balance), transposition errors and inter-series and inter-concept checks all can be prepared within the report definition. This provides a new level of rigor for business reporting.
- Since XBRL is a blend of content and context, the data definitions associated with a concept are always available. This makes it simpler for those preparing information, or defining source-system feeds, to get the definition right. The definition is typically available via a hyperlink or similar mechanism. There is no need to search through manuals.
Business reports, especially financial reports, often contain large amounts of standard information. While standard information is important, often the data that is different, that management wants to get across to the investor or that a division wants to get across to HQ is specialized or unique. With digital business reporting it is possible to extend the standard information set, setting apart the special or unique parts of the report from the standard series of information. This feature of XBRL means that companies will be able to better target their reporting messages.
In fact, the thorough definition of information is a crucial part of business reporting and something that XBRL addresses differently. Click here for more information .
For additional examples as to how digital business reporting can affect the enterprise, explore the Corporation part of this site. For a better understanding of the way XBRL functions, read about how XBRL is transforming data exchange.