XBRL may deliver more benefits this year
XBRL was not intended to be a bottleneck in the filing process, but that's what it has become.
It's no secret that companies regard it as a pain in the neck that would be okay if if there were some tangible benefits. So far, unfortunately, those benefits have proven elusive. But the requirement remains, and all companies continue face even more detailed tagging requirements.
The FASB last month released its 2013 GAAP taxonomy. Many companies initially opted to outsource the tagging process, but that hasn't necessarily worked out well.
Compliance Week makes the case that,"companies across the board are looking to take greater control over their XBRL filing, reducing their reliance over the coming year on outsourced service providers to perform the tagging and filing and increasing their internal staffing and knowledge of XBRL. (According to one survey), nearly half of large accelerated filers, those with the most experience with XBRL, said they expect to rely on no outsourcing to meet their XBRL mandate in the coming year, while only 21 percent expect to rely on outsourcing entirely."
However, companies with the most experience seem to be gaining the confidence to handle the XBRL process themselves. While the focus remains strictly on compliance, broadly speaking, companies may be entering a phase where they might take a more serious look at not just complying with the XBRL mandate but also developing applications that would highlight the power of the format.
As with other regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, executives will eventually get around to extending their thinking to real strategic benefits. I can only hope that happens with XBRL. It would be shame if companies end up not using it to its maximum advantage.
At the same time, it would be nice if data consuming entities started making better use of the tagged data. All in all, the XBRL era has been a disappointment. But 2013 may mark a turning point. -Jim