Can XBRL possibly live up to the hype?
Beats me, but it's certainly doing its best.
Supporters say it will revolutionize everything from corporate soup to nuts. And though many financial executives call the data tagging language a boon to financial reporting, some question whether it will ever pull its weight in internal operations.
Kim Wallin must have missed that memo.
Wallin is controller for the state of Nevada. She's also a CPA, and she is seeing huge benefits in applying XBRL to initiatives within her state's government.
Here's an example: Since applying XBRL to the grants reporting arena in its Department of Agriculture, Nevada has cut the time it takes the grants manager to prepare a report from two weeks to less than a day.
Here's another: Wallin is preparing to launch a pilot program in which XBRL becomes part of the state's debt collection process. She estimates Nevada will save up to $600,000 in staffing costs over two years by using the language. And since XBRL will enable existing staff to focus on debt collection rather than administrative tasks, Wallin says the state could bring in as much as $5 million in additional revenue over those same two years.
She also has co-authored a white paper that outlines ways in which states can use XBRL to streamline the reporting and registration process for new businesses.
And there's more. Wallin is hoping to apply XBRL to other state operations … and she says other states can do the same thing.
In an era when everyone is trying to do more with less, saving time and money might just be the incentive other states need to put XBRL into action.
Still, there will always be some folks who just don't get it. Exhibit A is the colleague at a recent Institute of Management Accountants conference who asked Wallin, “Why would anyone want to use XBRL? It just makes it too easy for people to have access to information.”
“And the problem with that is … what?” she asked him. “Isn't transparency what we want?”
More than that, it's what we need.
Wallin spoke with me on the phone recently from Paris, where she was attending the 19th XBRL International Conference. Listen to our conversation in its entirety in this CPA Spotlight podcast.
Plenty of other XBRL resources are floating around out there, starting with these:
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