How to set project budgets
Setting a budget is a great way to track a project’s progress. You can budget a project in either hours or fees, and you can also have the budget automatically reset each month. You’ll be able to see how much of your project's budget has been used and how much remains, and you can even set email alerts to help your team know a certain amount of the budget has been used.
The budget information reveals whether your project is progressing as expected, can help you anticipate potential problems, and gives you the insight to budget future projects more accurately.
Where to set project budgets
To set or edit budgets, head to Projects, click the Actions menu for any project, and choose Edit. On the edit page, look for the Budget dropdown in the Project type section.
Setting hourly budgets
You can set an hourly budget for any project in Harvest. There are three types of hourly budgets:
- Total project hours: You can set one hourly budget for your entire project.
- By default, both billable and non-billable hours count against total project hours budgets. If you prefer only billable hours to count against your budget, head to Settings > Preferences and update your Project budget setting.
- Hours per task: You can set an hourly budget for every task on your project.
- Hours per person: You can set an hourly budget for every person on your project.
If you choose to budget per person/per task, don’t forget to enter each person/task budget in the Team/Tasks section of your project form! If you leave a person/task’s budget field blank, their hours won’t count against the budget. This is different from entering
0 in the field—in that case, any time tracked will immediately show that the person/task is over budget.
Setting fee budgets
Fee budgets allow you to budget in money. You can set fee budgets on Time & Materials projects and Fixed Fee projects. You can’t set fee budgets on Non-Billable projects (since those projects don’t have billable rates).
There are two types of fee budgets:
- Total project fees: You can set one monetary budget for your entire project.
- This is the only budget type that lets you include expenses in your budget.
- Fees per task: You can set a monetary budget for every task on your project.
If you choose to budget in fees, don’t forget to enter billable rates on your project! We use billable rates to calculate how much of your budget remains.
For example, if you track 2 hours at $100 per hour, you would have used $200 of your available budget. This is how we calculate fee-based budget usage for both Fixed Fee and Time & Materials projects.
If you leave a task’s budget field blank, the billable amount it generates won’t count against the budget. This is different from entering
0 in the field—in that case, any billable time tracked will immediately show that the task is over budget.
Setting a budget to reset each month
The option to automatically reset a project’s budget every month is available for all Time & Materials and Non-Billable projects, as well as for Fixed Fee projects that budget in hours.
You can enable this option when you create a new project or by editing an existing project. Choose the hours or fees-based budget you want in place, then check the Budget resets every month option that appears beneath the selected budget type. Enter the hours or fees that you want to budget for each month, and save or update your project.
On the first day of each month, the budget will reset; the budget spent will be 0%, and the budget remaining will be 100%.
There’s currently no way to change a monthly recurring budget without affecting all historical data. If you need to do this, we recommend duplicating the project and using the new budget in the new, duplicate project. You’ll have as many projects as you do monthly budgets, but this will ensure the accuracy of your reports and invoices.
Budget email alerts
When you set a project budget, you can choose to send an email alert when you reach a certain percentage of that budget. Learn more in our article about budget email alerts.
Who can see budgets
Who can view a project’s budget info is determined by teammate permissions, permissions set on the individual project, and budget type.
- Members can’t view budget info for any projects.
- Managers can only view budget info for hour-based budgets on the projects they manage.
- Managers must have the additional permission to See and edit billable rates and amounts for projects and people they manage to see info for fee-based budgets.
- Administrators can view budget info for all projects.
When the option to Show project report to everyone on the project is enabled in the Permissions section of a project’s form, for that project only:
- Members, and Managers who don't manage but are assigned to the project, can view limited budget info for projects with hour-based budgets. The budget info they can see also depends on the budget type.
- Total project hours: Can view the total budget, the total hours the team has tracked to the project, and their own tracked hours.
- Hours per person: Can view the total budget, the total hours the team has tracked to the project, their individual budget, and their own tracked hours.
- Hours per task: Can view the total budget, the total hours the team has tracked to the project, and their own tracked hours. They can’t see each task’s individual budget.
Reporting on budgets
Once you’ve set up budgets, there are two places in Harvest where you can report on budget usage: