In today’s business environment, how much information managers have and how quickly they have it can make all the difference in decision quality—and competitive advantage. Diversified internal information environments are bad for business if they prevent fast, accurate, robust information gathering and consolidation for management analysis and decision making. Technology solutions (such as systems consolidations, warehousing and systems conversions) help to overcome incompatibilities, but can take years to implement. Technology environments are also subject to change through mergers and acquisitions, re-organisations and management decisions on systems.
No matter what systems and software comprise a company’s internal environment now or in the future, straight-through reporting via eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) and Web services Internet standards, provides a long-term solution in a matter of months. With straight-through reporting, managers can maintain instant access to and instant re-use of the information in company systems for analysis and decision making, even as systems and software change over time.
XBRL is a royalty-free, universal information-format standard that enables all software to share and process business information using Internet technology, such as the Web services standards. Since they are software- and platform-neutral, XBRL and Web services can be deployed over existing company systems to automate information exchange—creating a straight-through reporting environment. This eliminates manual information gathering and consolidation tasks, pulls time and costs out of internal reporting processes, enables reporting or analytical software to instantly re-use information and benefits management’s decision-making process in several ways:
Faster turnaround between events and decisions by enabling managers to instantly access and re-use business information from any company system upon publication, right from their desktop analytical software of choice. Whatever a company’s internal information environment, an XBRL Web services overlay can help to enable this capability using existing systems and software.
More time for analysis and decision making by enabling companies to automate inefficient manual information gathering and consolidation tasks. Most companies still prepare data manually, which makes all consolidations, whether for internal or external reporting, tedious and slow. This places practical limits on the frequency and scope of reports to management and strains existing resources further and further as the scope of management, regulatory and statutory reporting needs expands.
Expanded scope of routine analysis by eliminating information “silos” that prevent quick and easy incorporation of data needed for analysis. Even the most comprehensive solutions rarely can provide data that are born “live” and ready to move directly into reporting or analytical software.
Increased information reliability for greater confidence in analysis by directly accessing information at its publishing source within the company. Without XBRL Web services, solutions such as data warehousing and systems consolidations can mean information is one or more times removed from its source, so verification becomes harder at higher and higher consolidation levels.
Cheaper, more efficient reporting process by enabling re-deployment of resources used for manual information preparation to areas that add value to the business—such as analysis.