Automate the Disclosure of Your Financial and Regulatory Reports — Including XBRL Submissions

  • by Birgit Starmanns, Senior Director, Solution Marketing, EPM and Finance Solutions, SAP
  • February 20, 2012
After an organization completes the financial close, the final step is to disclose the results to various stakeholders, including regulatory agencies, financial analysts and investors, and corporate executives. Learn how SAP BusinessObjects Disclosure Management can automate the process of managing the production, publication, and filing of financial statements and regulatory disclosures, including eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) submissions.
Key Concept
Disclosure management refers to the process of collecting, editing, validating, and publishing financial statements and regulatory disclosures. These financial statements consist of a combination of financial key figures, plus unstructured and narrative information that provides additional descriptive information to supplement these financial results.

As companies manage their financial close process, many steps are automated with the use of SAP solutions, from the local entity close in SAP ERP Financials to the corporate close using SAP BusinessObjects solutions for enterprise performance management. Once the books have been closed, however, a final step is still missing — the results still need to be published.

An example of these results includes the electronic filing of quarterly and annual financial statements in the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format with agencies such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (US SEC). Another example is the electronic disclosure of tax information to agencies such as the UK HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) and the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany (the E-Bilanz mandate).

After a corporate close, many companies do not have an automated way to combine their financial results with narrative, descriptive information. Instead, they rely on manual processes that involve cutting and pasting of various data sources and descriptions into one document and then emailing the results to multiple approvers. These approvers may make contradictory edits. Consequently, additional manual validations need to be made to ensure the correct edits are incorporated and an audit trail is spread throughout various email inboxes. In addition, many companies have separate work streams for creating an annual report and for creating electronic filings. These separate processes and data streams increase the risk of inconsistencies in cases when a final adjustment is required.

SAP BusinessObjects Disclosure Management automates the process of managing the production, filing, and publication of financial statements and reports, including XBRL submissions of electronic filings. All data is collected within the application, making it the single source of information that then feeds all disclosures and reports, in multiple output formats. By introducing automation into the disclosure management process, you can reduce the time and cost associated with manual processes. In addition, you can decrease risk by implementing a comprehensive audit trail and ensure the consistency of your data in different reports.

The information flow of SAP BusinessObjects Disclosure Management (Figure 1) includes three stages: gathering the information (inputs); managing the revisions, validations, and approvals of the information (processing); and generating reports in various formats (outputs).

Figure 1
The data flow of the information in managing regulatory disclosures

Birgit Starmanns

Birgit Starmanns is a senior director in solution marketing at SAP for EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) and Finance solutions. Birgit has more than 20 years of experience across solution marketing, solution management, strategic customer communities, and consulting. Her functional experience is in finance, including core SAP ERP and enterprise performance management, as well as customer relationship management, which has allowed her to focus on the integration of cross-functional business processes. Prior to joining SAP, she was a principal in management consulting organizations, redesigning business processes and implementing SAP R/3 and R/2 for numerous Fortune 500 and SME companies, with a focus on management accounting. Birgit holds a BA and an MBA from the College of William and Mary.

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