Harvest is our time tracking solution. We track all client hours in Harvest (and some internal hours as well). It is critical that we track all of our client time, to ensure accurate invoicing for the client, and clean business metrics for us to make decisions.
Please note that the PMs are regularly reporting data to clients and coordinating finances based on what is in Harvest. If you are out of date, you could cause a mistake if they report the wrong information to clients or send an erroneous invoice. If you enter your hours more than 24 hours beyond when they occurred, be warned that we may have trouble getting paid for your time.
✅ Tracking your time during the day when you work on client projects
✅ Adding expenses related to client projects (See
Don’t Use For...
⛔️ Adding general expenses like snacks and equipment (Use Gusto)
Why we use it
One of our values is transparency. Accurate hours reporting allows us to be fully transparent with clients. Many clients are invoiced based on the time we spend on their work, so it is critical that we have a clear and accurate record.
How we use it
Think of your timesheet as a bill to the client. If you were writing out a summary for the client of what you did during a certain period, it would need to identify not only the project and type of work, but the specific part of it you worked on as well.
- Try to track your time while you work so it is fully accurate to the minute. If you forget and fill in after you complete a task, just try to make sure it is within 5 minutes of the actual amount of time you spent.
- Timesheet entries must be in the correct project and task. If you cannot find a suitable task to put your time in, speak to the relevant project manager and write it in a notebook to enter when fixed.
- Timesheet entry descriptions must describe not just what task you were working on, but what you did for that task. When possible, they should complete this sentence: "During this time, I ________________". Remember that this description is a BILL for the client and needs to be clear and accurate with regard to what Cantilever did for them.
- Example 1:
- Project: New Homepage
- Task: Frontend Development
- Good description: "Started on homepage HTML/CSS"
- Bad description: "Frontend". What did we do on the fronend?
- Bad description: "Homepage". What did we do on the homepage?
- Bad description: "HTML/CSS". What was the HTML/CSS for?
- Example 2:
- Project: New Invoicing System
- Task: Initial Implementation
- Good description: "Migrated old invoices from 2011 through 2013 into new system"
- Bad description: "Old invoices". What did we do with them?
- Bad description: "2011-2013". What from those years?
What is Billable?
Billable time is defined as time working directly toward deliverables for a client. Working on legal paperwork, invoicing, etc is considered “Client Relationship Management” and is not billable. There should be a task available in your Harvest projects for this when it comes up. Any meetings/emails/calls related directly to deliverables you are creating is billable.
Logging non-billable time
Logging non-billable time is optional for full-time employees. If you are a part-time employee you should log all your non-billable time as well, so that you get paid for it!
The Asana/Harvest integration allows you to start a Harvest timer from within Asana, so the actual task you worked on is linked in the description. This is super handy.
Harvest has a desktop app as well as a Chrome extension. If you use the Chrome extension and use Basecamp in Chrome, you will be able to track time related to specific basecamp todos very easily.
Since you have to track everything, managing small bits of work can be annoying. To minimize the amount of times you need to update your timer, we suggest "bundling" work related to a single project instead of moving from project to project. Do everything in one sitting, and then switch your timer and move on to the next project.
Project Management vs. Strategy
Many of our clients have an ongoing retainer with us called “Technical Strategy & Support” or similar, plus a “Planned Maintenance” or “Planned Creative Services” project.
The Planned Maintenance/Creative Services project will use simple hourly billing while the Technical Strategy project will be a flat monthly or quarterly rate. Generally speaking, Technical Strategy & Support covers:
- Emergency maintenance
- Issue triage, backlog grooming – everything involved in preparing work to begin
It does not cover project management. Project management is work spent to actively push along the work once it has started, including emails, meetings, phone calls, shopping for required software/fonts, research, scheduling, etc. Project management should be logged within Planned Maintenance.
In Harvest you will often be assigned to both projects for a given client. When in doubt about where to log something, ask the PM on the project.
For one-off projects, a single Harvest project for the while project is usually correct, with the different phases implemented as Tasks:
For ongoing projects, we used to set up individual monthly/quarterly Harvest projects for each period of time. This added a lot of complexity and confusion when it came to moving hours around and ensuring accuracy. Instead now we default to using a single Harvest project for all hours related to that engagement, usually with a recurring monthly budget.
All Harvest projects may include any team member regardless of whether they work on that project actively
Cantilever projects should be assigned to a specific quarter. At the end of the quarter, Operations should turn over that year’s iterations of each project and start anew. This will help us understand where our time went each year.