Understanding the 3 project types

The project type drives how you’ll report on your projects and how you’ll bill for the work you’ve done. There are three project types in Harvest: Time & Materials, Fixed Fee, and Non-Billable.

Do you bill your clients at an hourly rate? You’ll want to set up a Time & Materials project.

Time & Materials projects bill by the hour, at specific hourly rates (e.g., $100 per hour). The more hours you work, the more you charge. You might also charge for expenses incurred to complete the project (like software, airfare, mileage, etc.).

In order for Harvest to know how to calculate the billable amount of your project, you’ll need to select an Hourly rate. You can choose from several different types of hourly rates when creating a Time & Materials project:

Project hourly rate – You’ll enter just one hourly rate for the entire project. This rate gets applied to all billable hours tracked to the project, regardless of who works on it or what type of work is being done.


Person hourly rate – Based on the hourly rate for each member of your team. Each team member you add to the project will need to have a billable rate entered.


Task hourly rate – Based on the hourly rate for each task added to the project. You’ll need to enter billable rates for all billable tasks.Image_2021-10-13_at_9.23.29_AM.jpg

After deciding how to bill for your Time & Materials project, it’s time to set up a Budget for the project. You’ll see how you’re doing against your budget in real-time so you can keep your project on track (and have a chat with your client if necessary). There are two categories of budget methods: hourly and fee-based.

For Time & Materials projects, you can choose:

Hourly budgeting:

  • Total project hours – Set a time budget for the entire project.
  • Hours per person – Set a budget for each individual person on the project.
  • Hours per task – Set a budget for each separate task within the project.

Fee-based budgeting:

  • Total project fees – Choose this method if you need to include project expenses as part of the budget, not just time. You might want to use this if you’re billing your client for your expenses and need to see how they affect the budget.
  • Fees per task – Set a budget for each separate task within the project.

You can find more details on these budget methods in How to set up project budgets.

Do you bill your clients with retainers? You can set up a Time & Materials or Fixed Fee project.

Retainers can be used for clients who pay in advance, either as a one-time payment or in regular intervals, for a certain number of hours or a portion of a fee.

Harvest projects that draw from a retainer can have Time & Materials or Fixed Fee set as their Project type, depending on if you'll bill for hours worked or for a pre-arranged fee. Also, make sure that you’ve set up hourly rates, since invoices that draw from retainers in Harvest must be based on time and expenses tracked to your project. Free-form invoices, like those created from a blank template, can’t draw from retainers. For more information, take a look at our guide to creating retainers.

Do you bill your clients with a fixed fee? This is also known as a ‘flat rate or ‘set contract’ budget. If so, you’ll want to set up a Fixed Fee project.

If you’re billing your client a fixed amount of money for the overall project, you should choose the Fixed Fee option as your Project type. These projects bill a set price, no matter how many hours are worked (e.g., $1,000 to build a website). You might also charge for expenses incurred to complete the project. These expenses may or may not be included in the fixed fee.

If you’re creating a Fixed Fee project in Harvest, you’ll enter the total amount you plan to invoice for the project:


You can also set a Budget for your Fixed Fee projects. Budgets are optional and, if you budget in fees, will help you track what you could have charged your client if you were billing them at an hourly rate.

For Fixed Fee projects, you can choose:

Hourly budgeting:

  • Total project hours
  • Hours per person
  • Hours per task

Fee-based budgeting:

  • Total project fees
  • Fees per task

Are you trying to track an internal, non-billable project? You’ll want to create a Non-Billable project.

You’ll still be able to track time to Non-Billable projects, but you can’t create invoices for time tracked to them. A common example would be an internal project used to track matters within your company.

If your project is Non-Billable, you can choose:

Hourly budgeting:

  • Total project hours
  • Hours per person
  • Hours per task

Does your project budget need to reset each month?

For Time & Materials and Non-Billable projects, as well as for Fixed Fee projects that budget in hours, you can set a project’s budget to automatically reset each month. You can find out more about this option in How to set project budgets.


When setting up your project, you can decide which members of your team will be able to view the project report on the Projects page of their Harvest profiles. By default, only Administrators and Project Managers assigned to the project will be able to view it, but if you’d like, you can share it with everyone assigned to the project, including Regular Users. We’ll explain more about user permissions in Harvest in the next section of this guide.


Tasks allow the team to track time to the specific work they’re doing for the project. There are a set of tasks on the project by default, known in Harvest as common tasks. You can add more tasks by selecting from the list or by simply typing into the Add a task field. To remove a task from the project, just click the X next to the task name.

Tasks can be managed under Manage > Tasks. There, you can designate common tasks and set up defaults for each task, like its rate and whether or not it’s billable. You can override any of these default settings for a task on individual projects.


Here, you’ll want to add everyone who needs to track time or expenses to your project. Project Managers are designated here by a checked box; you can give other team members Project Manager permissions by checking the Manages this project checkbox, or you can leave them with their existing permission levels. We’ll show you how you can add your team members to your Harvest account and manage their permissions and rates in the next section.

Just like with Tasks, you can add people to a project by typing into the Add a person… field. Simply click the X next to a person’s name to remove them from the project.

Click Save project, and you’re ready to go! If you need to make changes later, it’s not a problem—you can adjust these settings at any time.

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