The HARVEST Blog

News & small business tips from your beloved time tracking & invoicing app.

Introducing Harvest Forecast

For the past year, a small team within Harvest has been working behind-the-scenes on a brand new project.

Today, after 5,443 hours of research, design, prototypes, more research, rewrites, polishes and betas, we’re excited to unveil our newest product: Harvest Forecast.

Forecast-Team-View-800

Thinking About the Future

For the past eight years, Harvest has refined how businesses track, analyze, and get paid for their time.

As our customers have grown their businesses, we recognized that Harvest was only part of the solution. Tracking time in the present and past was easy, but there was no answer for the future. Coordinating team assignments and schedules proved to be challenging. You might ask questions like:

  • Do we have enough capacity to take on a new client in two weeks?
  • What are the important milestones and deadlines on our projects this week?
  • Should we hire another person to meet the upcoming project demands?
  • How can we share this plan with the team?

Traditionally, businesses call this kind of scheduling “resource planning.” We like to think of it simply as team time planning.

Many businesses build spreadsheets to try to manage this planning. What we’ve heard from our customers, however, is that spreadsheets just don’t cut it. They’re unwieldy, difficult to maintain, and hard to share.

A New Way to Plan Your Team’s Time

Here at Harvest, we started to imagine what a truly modern solution to the problem could look like. Time was already our primary focus, and we knew that there could be a simpler answer.

We put together a small team of developers and designers with three key concepts in mind:

  • Be Visual – Scheduling projects and people is easier when done as a simple, visual experience.
  • Be Fluid – Accept the reality that schedules and priorities frequently change. Make the information easy to update and maintain so that it can accurately reflect reality.
  • Be Transparent – Plans work best when everyone knows where their time should go. The easier they are to share, the more informed and productive everyone becomes.

Around these simple concepts, Forecast was born. It’s a simple, visual way for you and your team to collaborate on who is working on what and when. It’s a solution designed precisely for the challenge.

Just the Beginning

While Forecast is beautifully simple to use on its own, we’re most excited about the possibilities for people who use Forecast in tandem with Harvest. Harvest tells you how your team spent time; Forecast anticipates where your team will spend time.

At launch, we’re starting simple. Harvest customers can easily bring all of their clients, projects, and people right into Forecast and start scheduling.

In the coming months, we have big plans to bridge the future and the past. One of our primary goals is to surface estimates vs actuals so that business owners and project managers can have previously unavailable insight into how they run their projects.

We’re excited to announce Forecast’s launch today not only because it’s the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and thought, but because we believe it can make managing your business easier. Check out what a few of our beta customers had to say here.

If you or someone you know finds scheduling people on projects challenging, we invite you to give Harvest Forecast a try today!

Faster Estimate Approval and Payment with Gmail Actions

In May we made it easier for your team to view timesheets straight from Gmail with the initial release of Gmail Actions for Harvest. Now, we’re streamlining the approvals and payments process for clients to help you get paid faster. The latest Gmail Actions allow clients to view estimates and invoices with one click right from the corresponding email’s subject line. With fewer hurdles, clients have fewer reasons to delay. You’ll have more time to get work done instead of hunting down approvals and payments.

Gmail Actions for Harvest Estimates and Invoices

We’ve also added Gmail Actions for report downloads from Harvest. When reports get emailed to you, a button appears in the subject line to open them faster. Simply click Export > Google Drive from a report like the Detailed Time Report, and you’ll have one click access from your inbox to view the report in Drive.

If you or your clients are already using Gmail, these buttons appear automatically on emails from Harvest without any setup. Feel free to send us any feedback or get in touch with our support team if you are having any trouble!

Say Hello to Getting Paid on the Fly

Everyone likes getting paid, and Harvest has a few features to help that happen fast—web invoices and online payments, to name a few.

Usually invoice payments through Harvest work great—if your client is on a computer. But what about your on-the-go clients who use their phone for more than Candy Crush? Ten percent of Harvest’s web invoice traffic comes from mobile—that means a lot of clients viewing a lot of invoices on their phones.

Previously that could be troublesome. Invoices didn’t look their best and, more importantly, you couldn’t pay them from your phone.

Today that’s changed. Say hello to Harvest’s mobile-friendly web invoices, featuring a brand-new, clean design.

Mobile web invoice

Even better, your clients can now pay their invoices straight from their phone. Just set up a payment gateway like Stripe or PayPal. Then your client simply taps the payment button to put money in your pocket.

Mobile web invoice payment

You and your clients are on the move—and now, so are your payments!

A New HarvestStatus.com

Nobody is quite sure how the internet really works and things sometimes go wrong. If Harvest experiences any systems issues, we try to keep our customers apprised of the situation as things develop, using a combination of Twitter and HarvestStatus.com.

Today we deployed an improved version of HarvestStatus.com. We hope this new tool will be very useful.

Customers can now subscribe to updates that we post on HarvestStatus.com. Just click the ‘Subscribe’ button on the new site, then add your email address or phone number. The system will then notify you of any new issues so you can stay informed. There’s also an RSS feed to make things even easier.

This new system allows folks on various Harvest teams to communicate with you during any service-impacting events, allowing those of us fixing any issues to focus on the task at hand.

For any customers who were relying on the now-deprecated status API on the previous version of HarvestStatus.com, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be glad to work with you on a new solution.

I will now head back down to the Harvest engine room where we spend our time working to keep Harvest running smoothly!

Meet the New Harvest for Google Apps

Google Apps is ingrained in our workflow here at Harvest, and many of our customers share the same story — checking e-mails in Gmail, collaborating on docs in Drive, and more.

Harvest fro Google Apps

The latest release of Harvest for Google Apps takes advantage of these tools already familiar and frequented by teams everywhere. It introduces the ability to pull users from Google Apps right into Harvest without re-entering any information. There’s also a tighter integration with Gmail. The team can take action on submitting timesheets and more right from Gmail’s inbox. Read on for the complete rundown of features.

Single Sign On

Sign in to Harvest with your Google Apps account and have one less password to remember. If you’re already signed in to another Google property like Gmail, you won’t have to re-enter your password to get into Harvest.

Import Users from Google Apps

With employees already in Google Apps, you can quickly add them to Harvest. From Manage > People in Harvest, click Import from Google. Then check off the Google Apps users you’d like to invite to Harvest. They’ll receive an e-mail with information to setup their account.

Gmail Actions

While viewing your inbox, a button now appears near the subject line of certain e-mails received from Harvest. These Gmail Actions provide one-click access to timesheets — either your own, or another employee’s timesheet for approval.

Export to Drive

Create the perfect time report and export it to Google Drive. Simply click Export > Google Drive from the report to export it to Google Drive. From there, manipulate the data in the resulting Google Spreadsheet, share it with colleagues or clients, and more.

Add the integration via the Google Apps Marketplace, and leave us a review if you like what you see! If you have any feedback, or if you’re having trouble please get in touch with our support team.

Harvest for iPhone 3.0: Refined & Simplified

We’ve updated our iPhone companion app with a more modern design, and a cleaner, simpler user experience. Behind the scenes, we simplified our codebase to gear up for future updates. Tracking time and entering expenses from iPhone feels even easier than before.

Harvest for iPhone 3

Here’s a rundown of the updates:

  • A brand new look & feel for iOS7
  • Swipe an entry to access start/stop or delete shortcuts
  • Better accessibility support for visually impaired users

The latest release is available today from the App Store — enjoy!

Connect Harvest with QuickBooks Online

Our newest integration with QuickBooks Online (QBO) makes invoicing a lot easier on your accountant or bookkeeper. With Harvest for QBO, invoices and recorded payments in Harvest are copied right to QBO. No longer does the person handling your books have to manually re-enter each line item or payment into QBO.

Harvest for QuickBooks Online

That means less time spent manually re-entering data into your QBO account, and fewer interruptions for your team. Simply create an invoice as you normally would in Harvest — detailed invoice information like billable hours and amounts are included as usual. Invoices will be copied from Harvest to QBO when you send them to your client, so you don’t have to remember to sync.

Here are step-by-step instructions to get started:

  1. Go to Accounts Settings > Integrations > Connect to QuickBooks.
  2. Select a Deposit Account, then Save.
  3. Create an invoice in Harvest as you normally would.
  4. Send the invoice to your client, and it will automatically copy to QBO.
  5. You may also copy the invoice to QBO from the More Actions menu of the invoice.

After the invoice copies to QBO, you can find it under Customers in your QBO account. When it’s time to get paid, payments recorded in Harvest are synced automatically to QBO.

For more information visit our Help Center article. We hope this integration puts a smile on the faces of bookkeepers and accountants everywhere!

Heartbleed and Harvest

On Monday, April 7th, there was a update released for the OpenSSL library to address security vulnerability CVE-2014-0160, more commonly known as the Heartbleed bug.

OpenSSL is widely used by many websites, including Harvest, to securely and privately transmit data on the Internet. The information exposed by the Heartbleed bug could allow an attacker to eavesdrop on these communications and steal data that could be tampered with or used to impersonate users.

Since the announcement, we have upgraded all of our infrastructure and Harvest is no longer vulnerable to Heartbleed.

We have no evidence that this exploit was used against Harvest. However, the nature of this attack makes detection very difficult, so we are being very cautious and aggressively updating anything that may have been compromised.

What you should do

In order to protect your account, you should do the following as soon as possible:

  1. Change your Harvest password. Go to your Profile Menu (upper right corner) and click My Profile. Click the Security tab, enter a new password, and click Reset Password.
  2. Revoke your access tokens for authorized applications. On the same Security page as step 1, you may see an “Authorized Applications” section. You should revoke any tokens listed there, as they have the same access to your account as your password. Revoking these tokens will log you out of any applications listed (such as Harvest for iPhone or Harvest for Mac).

What we’ve done

We upgraded OpenSSL for all of our main web application servers within minutes of the official announcement on April 7th.

One server, our internal infrastructure management tool which does not contain customer data, was not upgraded for three days because we had to wait for a new software release from an external vendor. This last server was upgraded on April 10th.

Once all of our systems were upgraded, we were no longer vulnerable to an attacker collecting any new data, but pre-existing things like the private keys for our SSL certificates could have been previously stolen. To mitigate this threat, we regenerated new private keys for all of our servers and had all of our SSL certificates reissued.

Unfortunately, this already-lengthy process took longer than anticipated, because we had to rely on a vendor to reissue our new SSL certificates, and this vendor introduced a bug into the certificate-issuing process that resulted in many instances of faulty certificates being issued. This bug impacted a number of their customers in addition to Harvest. We ultimately had to select a new vendor.

Lastly, we reset all user sessions to expire any sessions that may have been hijacked during the vulnerability window. You may have been logged out of Harvest and forced to log back in — that was a side effect of this reset.

While upgrading our infrastructure due to Heartbleed, we also hit an unrelated operating system bug which caused two brief Harvest outages. This made the introduction of the upgraded software and the new SSL certiticates impactful to customers. We are truly sorry for this interruption.

Introducing Harvest Projects

We used to have an official slogan here at Harvest: “Time is money, track it wisely.”

We no longer use that slogan, but I still love it—because it’s true. We understand that your time is your product, and we built Harvest to help you keep track of that time and get paid for it.

But that’s just the basics. You hire more people, take on more projects, and your business grows and becomes more complex. Revenue is just one part of the puzzle. You need more data and more intelligence to make better decisions. You might ask yourself: What are our most profitable projects? Who are my best clients? How’s the team doing, and should we hire for our upcoming jobs?

Over the coming months, we’re making several significant upgrades to Harvest to help you answer just these kinds of questions.

Early Access: Harvest Projects

We’ve been hard at work on a new section: Projects.

Our goal with this section is to make better sense of all the data you put into Harvest. You’ll have a better grasp of budget, profit, costs, and trend.

We still have a ways to go, at least a few months till completion. But instead of a waiting for a big splashy launch of a fully completed section, we’re trying something unprecedented for us: we’re opening our new Projects section for early access. You can start taking advantage of our new features as soon as they’re ready.

First New Feature: Tracking Project Costs

Harvest is great at figuring out each project’s billable amount—the key piece of data that you need to get paid and that you use to measure against your budget. To get your project’s full picture, however, you need the flip side of that equation: the project’s costs. What does your project cost you as a business?

Our first new early-access feature allows you to keep track of project costs. Here’s how it will work:

  • Under Manage > People, you’ll be able to enter a cost rate for each person.
  • In the new Projects section, each project will display the project’s total cost, as well as costs broken down by team and by task.
  • All exported reports will have two additional columns—cost rate and cost amount—so you can quickly and easily access this data for your records.

A New Beginning

Over the past seven years, Harvest has steadily grown with you, our customers. When I look at the past—and I literally did that by going back forty-something pages on this very blog—I can see a very clear arc of progression based on customer feedback. We’re listening, and because of you, we’re improving. Our new Projects section is a significant leap forward for Harvest, and we believe it will help you to gain new and different insight into your business.

Sign up for early access today, and you can start using our new features next week.

As always, thank you for your support! We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this new chapter for us here at Harvest.

Update (March 24th, 2014): thanks to everyone who expressed interest in the new Projects section! We received over a thousand sign-ups within the first three days, and we are slowly letting customers in for early access. We are currently working on a crucial feature for the new section. Once it’s ready (we hope by next week), we will invite more early access customers in.

Time Exports: Consistent and Clean

Consistency across an application like Harvest is important, but sometimes it can be difficult to maintain. We’ve been in the market for seven years, and many different people at different times have worked on the same code.

Right now if you export Harvest time data, you’ll get files with different fields of information. Different methods of export yield different results. You can:

  • Go to Reports > Detailed Time and export to one of the possible formats.
  • Go to Reports > Time and again export to one of the available formats. This export yields a document with slightly different fields in a different order than the Detailed Time export. However, if you export the data for one single person on your team, the report will have three fewer fields.
  • Go to your Account Settings and click on Download Company Time Data. This kind of export gives you the same format as the Reports > Time export.

This inconsistency can be pretty confusing. To fix that, we plan to unify these time exports so that they provide you with the same information no matter how you choose to export. This simplifies the logic so that we can continue to deliver new features while keeping the code clean and our minds (yours and ours) sane.

We’re basing our updated exports on the Time export, since it’s the most complete and the most widely used (there are almost five times more Time Report exports than Detailed Time Report exports). We’re using this chance to order the columns in these reports to make more sense.

Here is an example export so that you can get an idea of what our changes will look like. We plan to release this change within the next few days. If you have any questions about our update, just drop us a line at support@harvestapp.com.