Recently, the AICPA released new guidance on Audit Data Standards. These new standards are not requirements, but they are best practices for the exchange of data. Not surprisingly, XBRL (in the form of XBRL GL) plays a big part in these standards, forming the basis of the XML version (there is also a CSV format).
If we look at the statement of the AICPA, this advance in data standardization will help management, internal auditors, and external auditors. That is fine as far as it goes, but can it go further?
Once a data exchange standard is in place (and this one isn’t, yet) its usage goes on a random walk. Some standards collapse down to zero usage, while others find more and more uses. More users and more use cases are added to its portfolio.
This growth clearly should happen with respect to these Audit Data Standards. If the external auditor, looking for evidence of fraud or imminent failure, can benefit, so can a bank trying to decide on whether to loan money, or due diligence procedures, or even a regulator.
These are just the first steps towards standardized exchange of dis-aggregated data. They are not the last.