Should I set up a standard, recurring, or retainer invoice?

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Harvest has three types of invoices: standard (single), recurring, and retainer. Here are the differences and how best to use each type.

Standard (single) invoices

Standard invoices can be created based on tracked time, expenses, or fixed fees, or as a free form invoice.

Single invoices for tracked time, expenses, or fixed fees

Invoices based on tracked time and expenses will pull timesheet data from billable projects for the client and timeframe you specify. 

An invoice based on a fixed fee will use the project's total fee on the invoice. You can invoice for the full fixed fee all at once, or you can invoice a portion of the fixed fee. Invoicing for a portion of the fee can be made easier using the Project context

Single free form invoices

Free form invoices start as a blank page for you to enter data manually. These invoices will not use any tracked data or fees from your projects.

Recurring invoices

Recurring invoices can be free form or based on tracked time and expenses. Recurring invoices will generate on the interval that you specify—yearly, monthly, or a custom time period. Invoices generated by a free form recurring invoice template can be automatically sent to the client or saved as a draft that you can review or edit before sending. Invoices generated by a Time & Materials recurring invoice template can only be saved as a draft. 

Recurring invoices are best used for products or services that are billed cyclically (yearly, monthly, etc.).

Note that recurring invoices cannot currently pull on fixed fees or draw from retainers. 

Retainer invoices

When a client pays for part of a project in advance and those funds have to later be reconciled against the work that has been done, then it’s best to use a retainer invoice to start the project.

Once a retainer has a balance recorded in Harvest, when a project (or phase of a project) is complete, you can create a standard invoice based on project hours and expenses or a fixed fee, and Harvest will give you the option to apply the retainer balance towards that invoice.

If the total amount of the invoice exceeds the retainer funds available, then the remaining balance will be reflected on the invoice. You can then send the invoice with the outstanding balance to the client. If the retainer funds exceed the amount of the invoice, then the balance will stay in the retainer and can be applied to a future invoice.

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