Data Pont Modelling, XBRL Implementation, Standard Business Reporting

Standard Business Reporting (SBR) is the term commonly used to describe XBRL Taxonomy development projects that span multiple government agencies. There are many things that make these projects different and we touched on some of these in another blog “To SBR or not to SBR?”

In this blog we’ll talk about what is different about an SBR taxonomy development project from a purely taxonomy development aspect, rather than the surrounding project management, governance or political/cultural differences.

Standard Business Reporting (SBR) Taxonomy Development Project
The first thing to understand is that it is difficult. The results are more robust but they come at a cost. It is much easier to model things when you only have one model to consider. When there are multiple dissimilar models for the same data concepts, then things get trickier. The good news is that the insights you gain from analysing multiple reporting models are invaluable in improving the reporting process. Instead of just “paving the goat path” you gain a much greater appreciation of the true meaning and intent of the data, simply because you have no other choice.

Data Point Modelling (DPM) Methodology in Taxonomy Development
We are often asked about “DPM” – the Data Point Modelling methodology – and whether it is appropriate in an SBR context. The difficulty is in defining what people mean when they refer to DPM. Ignacio Boixo has written an excellent paper on this subject (refer ) and we consider that to be the best definition we’ve seen so far.

In essence it is simply the name given to what everyone has always been doing in the early days of taxonomy development. In its simplest manifestation, it involves identifying all the data points on a set of forms (usually the cells in a series of tables) and then breaking them down into their semantic components. The semantic component that represents the base business concepts is usually modelled as an element and the semantic variations of that concept modelled as either children of it, or contexts (dimensions) of it.

Applying DPM to SBR
In most cases, an SBR project will involve creating taxonomies for existing reporting regimes, so there will be many forms to consider and probably many equivalent data points duplicated across many of those forms, often modelled in different ways – e.g. sometimes as lists, sometimes as tables. The key to an SBR taxonomy is that you must ignore what the first occurrence of the data point looks like when you encounter it on the first form, but consider what the semantic components of it are. You are then faced with deciding how to model each component – as an element, or as a contextual variation (dimension).

There is no set rule  for determining one over the other. In general terms, however, semantic components that can relate to many and diverse business concepts - e.g. country, counterparty, color, etc – are more likely to be most useful as dimensions. Those which relate only to one or very few similar concepts are most useful as specialisations (children) of a broader concept – for example “notes and coins” is a semantic variation of “cash” but is unlikely to be a variation of any other business concept, so would best be modelled as a primary element. Note that none of the deliberation involved consideration of whether the data point was in a list or a table. The decision is made on what the semantic components are and what the likely reuse of it will be in a broader context.
This type of analysis is time consuming and requires deep knowledge of the whole reporting environment – both now and in the foreseeable future. The benefits are long term and will save a great deal of changes down the track. Whether it is worth it depends entirely on your ROI horizon.