Understanding the three project types

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

You might also want to see our article on creating projects for step-by-step instructions.

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 billable 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 for your Time & Materials project, you’ll need to select one of the three Billable rates options:

  • Project billable rate – You’ll enter just one 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 billable rate – Based on the billable rate for each member of your team. Each teammate you add to the project will need to have a billable rate entered. If you'd like to know more, we have additional articles on setting rates (with an overview video) and changing rates.
  • Task billable rate – Based on the billable rate for each task added to the project. You’ll need to enter billable rates for all billable tasks. To learn more, see our articles on setting rates and editing rates

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 time budget for each individual person on the project.
    • Hours per task: Set a time 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 our article on how to set up project budgets.

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

You should choose the Fixed Fee option as your Project type if you’re billing your client a set price for the overall project, 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.

When creating a Fixed Fee project, enter the total amount you plan to invoice for the project in the Project fees section:

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

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 whether you'll bill for hours worked or for a pre-arranged fee. In the case of a Time & Materials project, make sure you’ve set up billable rates, since invoices for that project type that draw from a retainer must be based on billable time and expenses.

Note that free-form invoices can’t draw from retainers.

For more information, take a look at our guide to creating retainers.

Are you tracking 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.

You can choose one of the following hourly budget options:

  • 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 our article on how to set project budgets.

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