For several years the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has mandated that filers apply eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) tags to their financial statements. XBRL was developed to make it easier for investors to use a company’s financial information. Now XBRL US has kicked off its second annual XBRL Challenge, a contest designed to encourage development of open source analytical tools that can use XBRL-formatted corporate financial data from the SEC’s EDGAR database. Sponsoring the effort are the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the CFA Institute (of which I am a member) and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. XBRL US hopes to raise awareness of the wealth of available XBRL data and provide incentives for application developers to create open source software that enables broader and more frequent use of the standard. The contest will award $20,000 grand prizes to the two teams, and judging will be based on how well each submission improves access to corporate data and provides analytic capabilities in an original, user-friendly way. This competition is a terrific idea because it addresses the least well developed element in the drive to improve the communication of corporate data to investors. Earlier this year I reviewed some of the submissions to the first XBRL Challenge. Although the first round of software offered a good start, much more needs to be done to encourage use of XBRL.
Topics: Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Financial Performance Management, SEC
Host Analytics has added new analytics and reporting resources to its cloud-based performance management suite. Business Analytics will offer a broad set of built-in analytics and reporting capabilities or, for companies with an existing business intelligence infrastructure (from vendors such as IBM, Infor, Oracle or SAP), the option of a self-service approach. I believe these new analytics and reporting capabilities give companies considering only on-premises performance management deployments another reason to consider a cloud-based option; for Host Analytics it broadens the set of features it has to compete with other cloud-based vendors.
Topics: Planning, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, Host Analytics, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), benchmark, Decision Hub, Financial Performance Management, SEC
The mandate by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that requires its filers to apply eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) tags to their financial statements has been in effect for several years. (XBRL is a core element of our Office of Finance Research Agenda for 2012.) One of the most important ideas behind this “interactive data” requirement was to make it as simple as possible for investors to be able to consume and analyze corporate financial data filed with the SEC. This intent sets the SEC mandate apart from most other XBRL tagging requirements, which are designed for the needs of regulatory bodies such as the Bank of Japan, the Australian federal and state governments and the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Moreover, I believe the depth and breadth of the SEC’s database and the size of the U.S. equity capital markets make this the most important public-focused use of XBRL in the world. Considerable progress has been made toward the main objective, but considerably more is needed, and the sooner the better.
Topics: Office of Finance, extended close, US-GAAP, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, compliance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), financial reporting, SEC, Digital Technology
The evolution from United States Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (US-GAAP) to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) has been under way for more than a decade. I’ve commented on IFRS adoption before. It’s a hot topic for accountants and auditors because it goes to the heart of how companies keep their books.
Topics: Office of Finance, closing, Controller, FASB, IASB, IFRS, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), financial statement, GAAP, SEC
The melding of the world’s two main financial accounting standards – United States Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (US-GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) – continues apace. Initially, the idea was to converge the two into a single, global standard. Although there was general agreement that the concept was a noble one, there were enough differences to produce practical concerns about implementing these changes, especially in the United States. Then, in December 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which mandates accounting standards for publicly traded companies, indicated that while in principle it favors a single international accounting standard, the Commission was going to take a “condorsement” approach, which I covered in a note last year. The SEC’s move essentially derailed the prior objective of replacing US-GAAP with IFRS by the middle of this decade. Still, the coming together of US-GAAP and IFRS continues to forge ahead even without acceptance of full adoption in the U.S. The two bodies that administer accounting standards, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which manages US-GAAP, and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which manages IFRS, are attempting to standardize wherever possible and harmonize as best they can elsewhere. One important area where there’s been significant progress is revenue recognition.
Host Analytics is taking advantage of one of the inherent advantages that vendors of software as a service (SaaS) have compared to on-premises ones: It’s easier for them to offer their customers data services and shared data repositories. The company’s Decision Hub has been available since last summer. Although it doesn’t break new ground, it is a solid offering of this type and its value should be considered in any evaluation of Host’s offering.
Topics: Planning, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, Host Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), benchmark, Decision Hub, Financial Performance Management, SEC
As the third calendar quarter draws to an end, most companies will be preparing their financial close, which is part of the ongoing accounting cycle. Periodic closing is a core finance function. Since companies found they could substantially shorten their closing intervals with computer-based accounting systems in the 1990s, there has be an ongoing focus to keep shortening the time it takes to close, and for good reason. For companies that must file financial statements with investors, closing the books sooner provides more time to devote to preparing and organizing the statements. And as regulations shorten deadlines for these filings, it puts pressure on the accounting department to finish this phase sooner. In our last benchmark research, a majority of companies wanted to accelerate their close, especially if it takes more than five business days, and nearly one-third (31%) of companies wanted to shorten their close to have more time for analysis and auditing before publishing their financial statements. Since this data is usually the most important component of a periodic review, a faster close lets assessments take place sooner and therefore become more actionable. Indeed, more than half (58%) of participants in our research said the major benefit of accelerating the close is getting financial or management information out sooner.
Topics: Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, Consolidation, Fast close, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, SEC
Hans Hoogervorst, who just succeeded Sir David Tweedie as the chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), recently said he is “optimistic the SEC will move to fully incorporate IFRS [International Financial Reporting Standards] shortly.” I find it hard to see why, unless one has a fairly elastic definition of “fully,” “incorporate” and “shortly” (or at least two out of three). Then again, one shouldn’t fault the head of an organization for expressing undue optimism since that’s what he or she is supposed to do.
Topics: Office of Finance, Reporting, Consolidation, FASB, IASB, IFRS, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), GAAP, SEC
IBM Software recently held a user group conference called Vision 2011 that focused on its Clarity Systems acquisition’s users but also covered broader finance department topics. For me, the highlight of the show was the continued evolution and enrichment of the Clarity FSR external reporting application designed to automate the close-to-report cycle. This process is commonly referred to as “the last mile of finance,” a term coined by a now-defunct company, Movaris, and adopted by Gartner. If you think about it, though, it isn’t “the last mile” for the tens of thousands of companies that don’t publish financial statements and is only one of several important finance department processes that follow the accounting close (such as internal reporting and tax statement preparation).
In July, Australia adopted what it calls "Standard Business Reporting" (SBR), which is designed to reduce the reporting burden imposed on businesses by the country's federal and state governments by streamlining the information submission ("lodging" for the Oz) process. In essence, the country is on its way to a file-once-use-many approach whereby companies provide data using a single secure sign-on known as "AUSkey" As of now, SBR reports include the Business Activity Statement, Tax File Number Declarations, payment summaries, payroll tax returns and financial statements. While the data can be compiled manually, the objective is to have SBR-enabled software to pre-fill and complete government forms directly from their own accounting and other business systems. The Australian initiative has been in the works for several years and appears to be off to a good start.