According to a Houston Chronicle article by Grant Houston, strategic management accounting is a form of business inquiry that combines the accounting criteria of an organization with external factors that influence the organization, such as industry trends in costing, pricing, market share and resources. The goal of strategic management accounting is to provide companies with a comprehensive means to analyze future business decisions. It is more complex than management accounting.

Houston explains that a company's strategic management accounting program rests on three primary elements, which are quality, cost and time, or QCT. Each company's QCT results vary based on the needs of its customers and the changing demands in the market. For example, one company's customer base may value quality over cost and time, while another company's customer base may prioritize cost savings over quality and time. These results help to guide a company's strategic initiatives so that it is able to better serve its customers and differentiate itself from competitors.

Strategic management accounting also amalgamates data from technical, behavioral and cultural measurements relating to a company's specific industry. When a company is able to identify its core asset base, it can better determine where to place its efforts and invest in growth. Without knowing where to evolve and how to compete with industry rivals, a company risks wasting its resources, notes Houston.