Overview

Often termed “bar codes for reporting”, XBRL allows for comprehensive definitions and unique, accurate data tags that enable the preparation, validation, publication, exchange, consumption and analysis of business information.  Understanding XBRL is fast becoming crucial as the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has launched a programme to implement it in South Africa by 1 July 2018.

So what is XBRL?

Short for eXtensible Business Reporting Language, it is a communication method for electronic business reporting to provide standards-based methods of preparing, extracting, publishing and exchanging financial data. This open, royalty-free standard for expressing business reports and related information comes under the constant custodianship of XBRL International, Inc., an international non-profit consortium of approximately 450 major companies, government agencies, and non-governmental organisations.

According to the XBRL home page: “…XBRL is a language for the electronic communication of business and financial data which is revolutionising business reporting around the world. It provides major benefits in the preparation, analysis and communication of business information. It offers cost savings, greater efficiency and improved accuracy, and reliability to all those involved in supplying or using financial data… The idea behind [XBRL] is simple. Instead of treating financial information as a block of text – as in a standard internet page or a printed document – it provides an identifying tag for each individual item of data. This is computer readable. For example, company net profit has its own unique tag.”

CIPC’s objective with the implementation of XBRL is not only to improve efficiency, effectiveness and the quality of financial reporting to the commission, but also to pave the way for other regulators in South Africa to adopt XBRL, which will improve information exchange among both regulators and stakeholders.

While a relatively new concept to South Africans, XBRL has been a reporting standard for international financial markets for some time, and there are technologies available to address the XBRL reporting mandates, such as Certent’s CDM. CDM helps finance departments improve the timeliness and quality of financial management processes and reporting. It also facilitates audits, extends enterprise resource planning (ERP) transactional controls, and improves financial risk management. In addition, CDM offers clients the ability to automate the process of XBRL tagging for compliance with the various XBRL mandates around the world.

Certent’s CDM allows teams to:

XBRL tag once

  • XBRL is a communication method for electronic business reporting. Certen’ts CDM uses the XML based framework within XBRL to provide companies with a standards-based method to prepare, extract, publish, and exchange financial data.
  • Although you can use various methods (for example, proprietary file formats, HTML, Adobe PDF, and flat text files) to transmit business information, the purpose of using XBRL is to provide a single comprehensive communication standard.
  • By putting financial data in an open, agreed upon standard format, XBRL helps standardise access to financial information over the Internet.
  • You can now view the interface for CDM’s XBRL in several languages in addition to English

Configure and enforce intelligent processes

  • Drive process consistency and automate many manual processes in budgeting, forecasting, the financial close and reporting.

Enable controlled collaboration

  • Rely on a single, secure, enterprise-scalable solution that lets multiple users view and edit reports simultaneously without versioning issues.

Link report data directly to enterprise data sources

  • Create dynamic reports that update automatically when the numbers in underlying data sources change — ensuring a single, consistent version of the truth throughout the office of finance.

Use workflow and task management capabilities

  • Gain insight into critical performance management and reporting processes through process dashboards and alerts.

Optimise controls and auditability

  • Standardise review and validation procedures and ensure they are performed at each level of the organisation—from department to entity to corporate headquarters.

Enhance security over sensitive data and reports

  • Use secure, user-based logins to power a comprehensive set of internal security features, preventing data leaks and insider trading.

Use the intuitive user interface of Microsoft Office

  • Users can take advantage of their expertise with the calculation capabilities of Microsoft Excel, and their knowledge of formatting in Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Word, while utilising the additional functionality and capabilities of an enterprise database driven solution.