Accounting profession software giant CCH’s decision to provide its customers the ability to render clients’ financial documents into an XBRL format, which allows for instantaneous access and collating of the most detailed information in business reports, could be a major boost to the XBRL movement nationwide, according to a top executive in an alliance with CCH.
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“CCH is a major and important company, so when they open their door for XBRL, it gives the technology even greaert credibility,” said Wayne Harding, vice president of business development for Rivet Software, whose newly announced alliance with CCH will enable users of CCH’s ProSystem fx to have documents generated by that software program to be “tagged” with XBRL coding.
The XBRL capability would initially be most suitable for practitioners using ProSystem fx’s audit or accounting components to serve larger public companies, Harding said. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been working with the accounting profession and technology companies championing XBRL development in the apparent hopes of someday making XBRL the reporting standard for all public companies.
The Rivet-CCH alliance may also someday be pertinent to users of ProSystem’s tax preparation software, Harding added, speculating that the SEC’s interest in XBRL could fuel similar sentiments at the Internal Revenue Service. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox has several times stated that XBRL could aid in the transparency of financial reporting and, more significantly, as reported by AccountingWEB on February 2, the SEC’s current request for proposals for management of its EDGAR database, says that the new manager should be prepared to implement XBRL capability into that database.
Technically, the RFP cannot specifically mandate that the new manager implement XBRL into EDGAR because the SEC does not require issuers to report in that format and is disinclined to make such a rule until after XBRL gains greater market acceptance. As it stands, only about nine companies now use XBRL to report under a voluntary program the SEC launched in early 2005. Undaunted, the SEC has since launched another incentive to get companies to use XBRL
“This could be a step in rallying the support XBRL needs,” Harding further said. Another major accounting market software vendor with XBRL capability is Microsoft Business Solutions whose FRx Software Corp. offers XBRL translation capabilities in some of its report writer tools. Those tools can be integrated with accounting applications from both Microsoft and other vendors.
Harding noted that while users of the FRx tools must be trained to use in order to extract the XBRL capability, Rivet, by contrast, is more turnkey. As an add-in to Excel, the software automatically adds XBRL tags to data on spreadsheets without any special training or effort required from the users, he said.
A spokesperson for Microsoft Business Solutions did not return calls for comment in time for this story. Rob Blake, who had been one of the XBRL champions at FRx and Microsoft, is among the other key executives at Rivet.
CCH and Rivet began discussing the potential for an alliance when Harding met with CCH Chief Executive Officer Kevin Robert at the American Institute of CPAs’ annual technology conference last summer. “Kevin was ecstatic about XBRL’s potential and felt it was important enough to make available to CCH’s customers. But the demand is still not there to warrant developing these systems in-house, so the alliance with us is the right solution,” Harding said.
Under the alliance, CCH will promote Rivet’s XBRL conversion tools to its customers, who can purchase them at reduced prices.