Posted on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Campbell Pryde, President and CEO, XBRL US

Trust. It’s one of the most important considerations when hiring a guide to lead a challenging mountain climb. Or choosing a doctor to perform a complicated medical procedure. When it comes to an important task, most people don’t just perform a Google search and pick the first name that pops up. They typically ask for references or research the experience that the individual, or his or her organization has in performing the task at hand.

When researching the right doctor for a needed medical procedure, knowing educational background, or experiences with a specific type of surgery can be important data-points. Is she up on the latest techniques? Does he work in a hospital that has a good reputation?

The same is true with developing standards. Only a specialist with the right skillset and experience can help build a good quality taxonomy or XBRL instance document. Just because a company or individual has consulting experience in technology or accounting does not mean they have the background needed to implement an XBRL data collection system or report a complicated filing in XBRL.

XBRL skills today do not typically come from traditional education like getting a B.A. in Accounting or a Masters in Computer Technology. XBRL skills are learned through hands-on work developing XBRL-formatted financials or building taxonomies. XBRL Achievements is a program that can help regulators and industry identify and confirm individuals with specific XBRL-related experience and expertise.

Education programs that do provide the right kind of skills-based learning about XBRL, include the AICPA’s XBRL Certificate program or XBRL International’s Foundation Certificate. Workshops and webinars held by XBRL US or the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) are also useful at building appropriate skills based on the latest industry best practice. XBRL skills are developed through participation in committees and working groups dedicated to developing the XBRL specification or creating guidance materials to work with the spec. For many who are deeply involved in the work, XBRL is one facet of their professional credential, making it tough to identify these skills in an easily verified manner on a resume.

XBRL Achievements is based on the “digital badge” concept, a form of “micro-credential” confirming that an individual has met established criteria. Traditional physical badges have been used for many years by organizations as diverse as PADI for diving certification or the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. These organizations give members a physical emblem to display various accomplishments.  Digital badges are relatively new – in a web-based setting they are an excellent way to showcase skills that don’t neatly fit into a college degree or as part of a traditional credentialing organization. In addition to the list of Achievement Leaders on our site which notes who has earned these recognitions, look for these digital badges on LinkedIn profiles and other social networks.

XBRL Achievements currently recognizes skills and involvement in three areas:

  • Professional Education – Attending or presenting at workshops and webinars that cover topics ranging from tagging XBRL data for SEC reporting to understanding the Inline XBRL specification.
  • Committee Membership – Being a part of a core working group or committee that is tasked with developing adoption-related programs, taxonomy development work or domain-specific programs.
  • Specification & Guidance – Working on specifications related to XBRL 2.1 or guidance to support implementation of taxonomies.

Soon we’ll be adding a fourth “data-focused” achievement badge to recognize individuals who guide development of, create and use good quality XBRL data.  We’re also working on additional ways that XBRL Achievement recipients can share details related to their credential. Contact us ( with questions.

Building durable standards is not a simple task. It requires the right process and the right individuals to effectively and successfully produce consistent, computer-readable data. You wouldn’t hire a general practitioner to perform complex knee surgery. And you wouldn’t hire just anyone to lead a trip up Mount Everest. XBRL Achievements helps regulators and businesses identify individuals with the appropriate XBRL skills to ensure a  successful XBRL program.