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XBRL Detail Mapping: Harder Than You Think

March 27, 2010

Selecting the Right “Tag”

US GAAP is very specific and disclosures are unique from company to company. Selecting the right element and domain member (not to mention the right domain and axis) can be a challenge. Some element definitions are very similar to the definitions of other elements, so careful attention to detail is needed. Generally there are two ways to locate an element that works for your situation (depending on the software tool or outsource partner you utilize. The first way is to browse the taxonomy. This approach can be very helpful because the US GAAP Taxonomy (UGT) is organized by disclosure type. By browsing you may locate the section of the taxonomy that relates to the disclosure you are mapping. The second approach is to search the UGT using key words. This method has advantages too, because elements may be located elsewhere in the UGT by searching key words for your disclosure. In addition, if you are searching for a text block element or a member element, using the key words text block or member will narrow your search to those types of elements.

Volume of Data

Detail mapping financial statements and footnote disclosures can be very time consuming. Many SEC filings consist of hundreds of pages of disclosures. The sheer volume of narrative disclosures, list type disclosures and dimensional disclosures to be mapped is significant. In addition, companies need to employ an approval process that will involve more resources (preparers, disclosure experts, reviewers, and auditors, if desired). With the level of detail and the number of resources involved, detail mapping becomes a time consuming process (start early or face long hours to complete detail mapping deadlines).

Outsource Partners

Outsource partners can be very helpful. Many of them have expertise well beyond what most companies possess internally. With that said, be aware that the resources of outsource partners are being stretched by the volume of detail mapping they are completing for the first adopters of the SEC’s XBRL compliance requirement. In addition to Phase II mapping of for the initial adopters, outsource partners are beginning to deal with Phase I mapping for the second wave of XBRL adopters. Again, it is best to start your mapping process early to avoid the last minute rush.

Reviewing Renderings

Many of the rendering tools are still lacking the functionality users desire. Some software tools pride themselves in the quality of their renderings. Whatever your situation is, be aware that reviewing mapped financial statements and footnote disclosures using the renderings can present challenges. For instance (pardon the pun), in a recent experience reviewers could only see the HTML labels of domain members and not the CamelCase Concatenated names and related definitions. Still, some tools may provide context reports that provide the detail for reviewers, but with the volume of detail mapped financial data the context reports may be difficult to access in a web enabled environment. Be prepared for challenges as you review your detail XBRL mappings.

Outsource or “Insource”

Did you completely outsource your compliance requirement? If so, you do not have to deal with the difficulties of detail mapping footnote disclosures. If this is your situation, you may have avoided a headache, but you are also allowing someone else to control your electronic message to analysts, investors, shareholder and the public. In addition, you are not getting through the XBRL learning curve to enable a clearer understanding of how to utilize XBRL to streamline financial reporting processes, improve accuracy, limit manual intervention and get control of spreadsheet nightmares (“frankensheets”). Are you ready for XBRL?

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