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Does XBRL implementation in the US work?

While reading the article by David Trainer in Forbes “XBRL Would Be Wonderful If It Always Worked“, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something was missing there. Actually, when we use XBRL to build some custom Excel templates for evaluating company financials or comparing it to its industry peers, things do work. I agree that there are mistakes in the filings and sometimes they are very silly. I also agree that the quality of filings two years or even a year ago was a lot worse than today. However, here are some key points that the article misses I think.
1) XBRL is a lot more advantageous in custom analysis of some companies, because it’s very granular. Using XBRL to monitor the whole universe of companies is not the best idea, at least today. So, SEC would have a lot of technical challenges and maybe does face them now if it was to use XBRL for automotated monitoring of the quality of all financial reports. I agree that does have to do a better job a catching simple erros such as DEI ones.
2) You can’t have 100% reliable information. Even the Big guys such as Bloomberg or Capital IQ have data errors. The question is rather what is the cost of eliminating the long tail of errors from parsing HTML or XBRL reports. I think the latter is a lot lower.
3) The consumption of XBRL reports should start with the public companies themselves. That would create the missing positive feedback, which is absolutely necessary to improve any data intensive process. For that, the public companies need more convenient tools to access XBRL data of their peers and perform comparative analysis, instead of just focusing on their internal representation of the financials. Naturally, the controllers use Excel in their financial analysis and they would want to access other companies’ XBRL data in Excel too. This is where we see our place and fit XBRLAnalyst in.

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