Billing & Budgets

We have baseline fee structures for one-time projects and ongoing work, but we deviate when it makes sense for the client.

The most common scenarios for One-Time projects are:

  • Fixed cost, in phases. We create an estimate for the whole project and establish a fixed cost for the first phase but provide estimates for each subsequent phase. Then, prior to starting each subsequent phase, we agree on a fixed cost for just that phase.
  • Hourly billing. We agree on a detailed overall scope but don’t commit to a specific cost. We provide an estimate and charge hourly. We quote the client a range of possible costs. For example, if our estimate is $100k, we might make the bottom of the range $80k and the top $120k. This gives the client confidence that the budget will be within a certain amount, while providing the flexibility of an hourly arrangement. In some cases we may put a “Cap” on a project so that the client knows they will end up under a certain budget, but in exchange we need flexibility in case the deliverables turn out to need more time than both parties are expecting. We try not to offer a cap on charges when deliverables are at all vague, as vagueness leads to scope creep.

Both fixed cost and hourly arrangements have upsides and downsides. We tend to prefer fixed cost when the scope of each phase of work can be reasonably grasped at the outset. Hourly arrangements offer the client the opportunity to control the final cost by making certain decisions during the process. When working hourly, it is important to contextualize the cost impact of any given choice the client is making. They should feel in control of where the final costs end up.

For ongoing projects, we use:

  • Strategy Retainers. The client pays a flat cost for a “Technical Strategy & Support” retainer which includes all issue intake/analysis, plus emergency response and a discount on hourly work. All design, development, and associated PM work is done hourly as a part of a “Planned Maintenance” or “Planned Creative Services”
  • A-la-carte hourly. We maintain a flexible agreement with the client and provide estimates for potential new work. We charge our full hourly rates for a-la-carte work, generally.

Hourly Rates

As of Q3 2021 our standard hourly rate is $250 USD. Clients may receive discounts on our rates when...

  • The project represents a large chunk of hours, and we provide a bulk discount
  • The project has an ongoing commitment
  • The project is for friends or family (Currently charging $150/hr)
  • The project is for a non-profit or organization we wish to support by providing an additional discount

The Sales team and strategist are responsible for setting and managing pricing for clients that is fair, transparent, and clear.

Budget Management

At the start of any project, the PM will create a new Harvest project. The Harvest project must reflect accurately the billing arrangement we have with the client. In cases where we are working from an estimate, ensure that the estimate is entered into Harvest as the primary budget. If we have a fee floor or cap, make sure that is noted in the Harvest project notes.

As you go about your work, the PM should monitor the project budget constantly. Once a day is great – basically, whenever they are trying to ascertain the status of a project, they should check the budget as well. When they do their weekly check-in with the client, if the project is hourly, they must update them on the status of the budget every week. If the project is fixed-rate, the PM doesn’t need to keep them in the loop since it doesn’t make a difference for them, but they should update the Strategist and team internally every week so they understand where we are at.


The PM is responsible for ensuring that invoices go to the client when triggered by the invoice schedule in the relevant SOW. All PMs should have the ability to make invoices in Harvest. Only the

is currently able to send invoices to clients, so the PM just has to draft it and alert the CEO.

The PM is also responsible to continually monitor past invoice status. Our invoices have due dates. If clients are not meeting those due dates we may need to stop work in some cases. It is unwise for us to invest hundreds of hours into a project prior to getting paid (we pay our people right away). So the PM should continually review the invoice status of projects and make sure that they are being paid in prompt fashion. The PM is accountable to ensure that we don’t do work unless we receive any upfront payments required.

Managing Non-USD Currency

Harvest projects do not yet support multiple currencies, which sucks! We primarily work in USD. If we do a project in Euro or CAD, the least confusing way is to enter the correct absolute amounts into Harvest, then make sure that the final invoices reflect the correct currency. Harvest can invoice in any currency.

This means that when you see the budget report and statistics in Harvest, it will show simply with a dollar sign, but when the invoice goes out, it will be in the proper currency.


Note that European accounts should typically be running through our Europe entity, which uses a different invoicing system, not Harvest.

For example, if we are charging 200 euro/hr for a certain project, just enter $200 as the project rate. Don’t convert the rate to actual USD.