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XBRL - eXtensible Business Reporting Language

XBRL is revolutionising financial and business reporting

What is XBRL? 

Magnifying GlassFirstly, XBRL is an electronic language used for the communication of business and financial data. The original concept that continues to form the backbone of XBRL is the creation of a global standard that permits each piece of data contained within corporate financial reports, such as the primary financial statements or the notes and schedules to the financials, to be “tagged” with what is perhaps best described as a “bar code”. It is like taking the Deloitte Model Financial Statements and allocating each line item’s narrative and value a unique identifier and descriptor that map perfectly on to IFRS standards whilst being capable of flexible extension to cater for company specific requirements. 

Secondly, XBRL is an international non-profit organisation that defines the specification for expressing the XBRL language. The use of the standard is open source and royalty free. More than 600 organisations globally are involved with XBRL International Inc.

Delivering value to our clients

We enhance our value to our clients by providing guidance about various aspects of the XBRL reporting process. Deloitte South Africa’s team of XBRL experts assists clients in avoiding common pitfalls and errors when implementing XBRL and delivering an understanding of the bigger picture of XBRL financial reporting and tax. Deloitte believes that this is the ideal time for clients to gain a greater understanding of XBRL due to the JSE implementing a Voluntary Filing Program. Involvement in this process will ensure clients are ready for XBRL once it becomes mandatory, as well as enabling them to take advantage of its business intelligence capabilities.

The Deloitte difference

Bar CodeAs one of the founding members of XBRL International, Deloitte actively participates in XBRL development globally. 

Deloitte South Africa is a founding member of XBRL South Africa and has completed numerous engagements for local and foreign corporate entities and regulators and stock exchanges. 

We have provided strategic planning for XBRL adoption, educational training, agreed upon procedures for validation of specific regulatory compliance and XBRL, incorporating XBRL into the financial reporting processes, assisted in technology selection and implementation, financial reporting process re-engineering, XBRL Taxonomy development, change management and internal reporting using XBRL.

 Deloitte South Africa is a leading technical authority on XBRL as well as implementer, not just locally, but is also widely recognised in the international XBRL community.


Utilising XBRL offers companies several improvement opportunities, including the following: 

  • Easy access to financial data and industry benchmarking 
  • Standardised and improved business and financial reporting 
  • Data consolidation from disparate systems 

The benefits derived from XBRL are directly associated with the extent to which it is leveraged. 

Using XBRL does not necessarily require a significant change in the current accounting process and companies do not have to replace their ERP systems; tagging can be treated as an added step in the reporting process by the accounting and reporting specialists within the organisation. 

Companies that take a more holistic approach in the integration of XBRL into their accounting and business processes and associated systems will likely realise more of the inherent benefits provided by XBRL than those companies that take a more “bolt on” approach. 

This is the ideal time for companies to learn and implement the benefits of XBRL as more and more regulators in South Africa are evaluating the use of XBRL.

Learn more

  • XBRL and the JSE


Shelly Nelson

Shelly Nelson
Tel: +27 11 806 5799

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