In-House vs. Outsourced Accounting: Which Is Best for Your SMB?

May 30, 2024

Accounting is the foundation upon which every successful business stands.

Accounting helps with financial health, staying compliant, and working efficiently. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need to choose whether to do their accounting in-house or outsource it to a third-party company. 

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each option, especially considering how software can help with both choices.

In-house accounting allows for control and customization

In-house accounting involves the internal management of a company's financial records, transactions, and reporting by its employees. SMBs find it beneficial because it allows the owners to have direct control and customize their financial processes. 

With such a hands-on approach, owners can tailor financial processes to meet their specific needs, leading to more accurate budgeting, forecasting, and reporting. This, in turn, helps with strategic decision-making that directly impacts business growth.

Advantages of in-house accounting

  • Quick access: In-house teams have immediate access to financial data, which allows for quick decision-making. This advantage is particularly valuable for small and medium-sized businesses operating in fast-paced markets where swift action is crucial.
  • Understanding: Internal accountants understand the business's finances well, which aids in accurate financial analysis and planning.
  • Collaboration with other departments: In-house accountants can work closely with other departments. This helps them collaborate better and understand the company’s financial health. It also improves overall operational efficiency.

Challenges of in-house accounting

  • Cost: Hiring, training, and keeping skilled accounting staff can be expensive. Investing in accounting software and its maintenance can also strain budgets. These higher costs can lead to a slower return on investment (ROI).
  • Capacity: Small businesses may need help maintaining enough accounting resources during busy periods or for handling complex financial transactions.
  • Security Concerns: Sharing financial data with a third party might raise security and confidentiality concerns.

Third-party accounting provides greater flexibility and expertise 

Outsourcing accounting can help small and medium-sized businesses by providing access to external expertise and flexibility.

This strategy enables companies to navigate complex financial situations, comply with regulations, and focus on other important business operations.

Advantages of outsourcing

  • Ease of doing business with: Outsourced accounting providers typically offer access to experienced accountants and CPAs who can provide personalized advice and services tailored to a business's needs.
  • Cost efficiency: By outsourcing, SMBs avoid the costs associated with hiring and training internal teams. Many firms offer flexible pricing structures, making it easier for businesses to scale services as needed, and obtain ROI faster.
  • Advanced technology: Outsourced accounting firms often use the newest accounting software and technology. This gives businesses advanced tools for financial management without needing to make significant investments.

Challenges of outsourcing

  • Less control: Outsourcing limits direct oversight of financial operations. Communication gaps and potential delays may arise, particularly in time-sensitive situations.
  • Vendor reliability: SMBs must choose reliable accounting firms with proven track records. A decrease in service quality could lead to financial inaccuracies or compliance issues.
  • Cultural differences: Differences in work culture and ethics can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, while varying business practices and standards can affect the consistency and quality of work.

G2 data suggests that outsourced services provide better support

As mentioned above, both types of accounting have their own set of pros and cons. One such opposing metric is the ease of doing business with/support. 

G2 data from the past two years supports this claim. Users of outsourced finance and accounting services rated this metric over half a point higher than in-house accounting software. 

While both scores are respectable, outsourced services may receive higher ratings due to increased human interaction and more personalized services.  


Weighing the pros and cons

Both in-house accounting and outsourcing have pros and cons for small and medium-sized businesses. In-house accounting offers more control, immediate access to financial data, and the ability to customize financial processes to meet specific business needs.

However, it can be expensive and requires significant resources to maintain skilled staff and up-to-date software. 

On the other hand, outsourcing provides access to specialized expertise, cost efficiency, and advanced accounting integrations, but it may limit direct oversight and have potential communication and cultural challenges.

Learn more about accounting software made exclusively for SMBs here.

Edited by Monishka Agrawal

Finance and Accounting Business Process Outsourcing Service Providers Let the experts handle it!

Finance and accounting business process outsourcing service providers help you optimize, standardize, and automate core business processes.

In-House vs. Outsourced Accounting: Which Is Best for Your SMB? Explore the advantages and challenges of small and medium-sized businesses managing accounting in-house versus outsourcing it.
Nathan Calabrese Nathan is a Senior Research Analyst at G2 focusing on finance and accounting software and their respective markets. Coming from the world of finance, Nathan understands and is familiar with the importance of finance/accounting software, and the complexities, struggles, and nuances that come with them. He has over 15 years of analytical experience in industries ranging from health care and transportation logistics to food service and software. Nathan received his MBA in finance and international business administration from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and his B.S. in production and operations management from California State University, Chico.