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.

50 Comments so far
  • Mike Swanson February 20, 2014

    This is good to know. We are looking at using time exports for some regular reports, but need to go through Harvest->Excel->Access to massage the data. A consistent output will assist in data integrity.

  • Matt Massey February 20, 2014

    What about the .qif QuickBooks export? This format is being phased out and will probably not work in the next versions. any plans to upgrade the export to something compatible with QuickBooks?

  • I would like to second the question from Matt Massey. I have QB and would like the answer to his question as well…

  • As long as that report covers the same data as the detail report I’m fine with that – we heavily use the detail time report.

    I would have love to be able to import into QB but Harvest doesn’t allow me to build a matrix of rates/resource/client (i.e. I have different rates for the same resource for the different clients) so right now I use the detailed time report to manually do invoicing in QB for each client.

  • On the subject of time, my biggest gripe is the use of the decimal system to convert hours and minutes. This can create inaccurate amounts when invoicing.

  • If the option to export .iif QuickBooks files is eliminated, that is a HUGE issue for our payroll/billing process. We would basically have to find another timer. Can you clarify on this? Thank you!

  • We also use the IIF QuickBooks export functionality from the Time tab in Harvest. As Enid asked, please clarify whether there will be any change to this. Thank you!

  • Glad to see this is getting some good feedback!

    Enid and Darby, there’s no need to worry; this change won’t affect our QuickBooks integration, so you’ll still be able to export your IIF file without a problem.

    Matt and Denise, we don’t have plans at the moment to change our QuickBooks for desktop integration, but we are working on a QuickBooks Online integration. If you’d like more info about that, shoot us an email at support@harvestapp.com.

  • Chris Buryta February 20, 2014

    New format looks nice – lets make sure imports still work though, e.g. the exports should be able to be used to import data as is into a Harvest account. That was broken shortly a couple years ago, I’d hate to see that break with these updates.

  • Chris we’re being extra cautious to ensure there aren’t any gaps between what Harvest exports and what Harvest can import, but if you do run into discrepancies, please don’t hesitate to let us know at support@harvestapp.com!

  • Matt Massey February 20, 2014

    We use desktop version. Harvest is worthless to me if quickbooks stops importing IIF.

  • Is there any chance that the you can include a field to indicate which invoice # the hours were invoiced on?
    It seems that the time entry knows which invoice it got included on but the export has never contained that data.

    It would be super useful to help tie out the time entry export to the invoice export (our company is all 1099 consultants so I need to prepare statements for them to show the status of the hours they have entered, ie. uninvoiced, invoiced, paid).

    Love the software and thanks for any changes or updates you guys make!!!

  • I use QB desktop and would not be using Harvest either if you drop any support for it. It sure would be nice to be able to have a billable/non-billable checkbox for every option like we have in Quickbooks. It really complicates it for us.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with Gareth re the time being converted to decimal. I end up with these weird amounts for invoices, even though my hourly rate equates to a flat $2 per minute (plus GST).

  • Lisa,

    We use QB “Items” which link to Harvest “Tasks” to handle the matrix you are talking about.

    So, if we charge $100 for personA working on a project at clientA, and $120 for the same person at clientB. Then we create the Item “personA” in QBs and subitems under that Item “clientA” and “clientB” and set the rates in those subitems.

    Then in Harvest create the Tasks: personA:clientA and personA:clientB also with the correct rates in each. And specify Task-based pricing for the client.

    And then the import from Harvest to QBs works perfectly — no manually step is needed.

  • Can you PLEASE ad the ability to export as a PDF right from the report? Currently, the only way to produce a PDF is to print to PDF which stamps it with the URL and time from the browser. The current dropdown includes export for Excel and CSV, but a PDF option would help a lot as I like to include a report with my PDF invoices.

    Thanks!

  • Awesome news! Thank you for taking this as a priority!

  • Are you sure you want to re-format this report like this?

    Looking at your Excel report format, you have moved the order of columns. For example, First Name and Last Name are now in columns N and O, whereas they have always been in columns F and G.

    This causes serious problems for us because we import Harvest data in our time and cost reports and also into a time adjustment application (to give a maximum hours workable per day value). It’s not an easy job for us to re-format all our reports to use the new column layouts.

    We are a user with 400 licences. I will be contacting you further to discuss options for your column layouts.

  • “Can you PLEASE ad the ability to export as a PDF right from the report? Currently, the only way to produce a PDF is to print to PDF which stamps it with the URL and time from the browser. The current dropdown includes export for Excel and CSV, but a PDF option would help a lot as I like to include a report with my PDF invoices.”

    Yes, please! I have requested this function for so long. Also the filenames could have the time period like company_project_datefrom_dateto.pdf

  • We’re glad to see this change. What we’d most like concerning exports, though, is the option to export the summaries of hours by project, staff, task, or whatever, rather then all the detail. It’s crazy to have to copy and paste all the figures from the reports, or calculate them again from the detailed date in excel, rather then be able just to get the same data straight from the report we’re looking at!

  • @Paul Simpson
    It is very important for us to export also the ‘total budget fees’ field in the excel.
    Please let us know if it is possible.

  • It would be great for us to choose the fields to be incorporated in the reports, then export directly to PDF. For example, I always round my time when invoicing, so the client shouldn’t see the exact time. I also end up taking out a number of other fields. It would be great so that I could either (a) in my settings, preset what fields would be included in reports and then have that always apply or (b) have the option of selecting fields when generating each report.

  • I agree with Jennifer. I would like to see a lot more functionality with Harvest reporting. There should be a reporting feature where the user can request specific data fields and customize reports rather than having only canned reports that then have to be manipulated in Excel to get the right data in the right format. Also, is there a way to better incorporate the Basecamp timetracking? When clicking on the clock next to a task in Basecamp, it would be a huge bonus to have the client name pre-filled. Right now the task description is pre-filled in but the user still has to go through the process of selecting the client. This adds a lot of time to timetracking and takes away a lot of the benefit of integrating the 2 systems.

  • As long as I can stil export fancy looking reports as PDF to hand them out to clients, I am fine with that.

  • This is good news. I have looked at the sample and noticed you haven’t included the project budget in there. This is an issue. The hourly rate is in there, so I don’t understand why the budget data point isn’t included.

    Having the project budget added into this report would provide a more complete picture and save my team a lot of pain of manually pulling together budget reports. Some projects we bill the budgeted amount, others we use the time logged.

  • I use desktop QB as well and will be looking for a new timer if support is dropped.

  • On making it more consistent, would you consider moving the Start and End time columns before the Hours column. It makes more sense to see the times, and then the resulting hours from the times. Thanks for the consideration.

  • I may be missing something, but it looks like the new export format uses a YYYY-MM-DD date format. That’s a clean enough format, but I don’t think it’s one that Excel will readily recognize as a date, so that might leave a lot of people (me, included) having to parse out and reconstruct a date value for any post-export analysis that requires that.

  • I agree with Chris, changing export is great but you need to make sure also import is supporting the new format.

    As a consultant, I’m using Harvest for many years now for my own time and expenses reports and my invoicing. I’m also lobbying for Harvest when my clients look for a time tracking application for their projects as it is so simple to use. The benefits for me is that if a client uses Harvest, I just need to export the data from their application and import them into mine for doing my invoices, no manual double entry, no risk of error, no discussion.

    Going further, I’m wondering if it cannot be interesting to link different Harvest sites so I could retrieve into “my” harvest (the one I’m admin), the time I’ve booked into a client harvest without having to export and import…

  • I appreciate that Harvest is being proactive with updates. I’d love to see greater flexibility in the invoicing feature as well – i.e. to allow users to customize the invoices even more. Right now I have to edit the invoice output each time I run it – the date field for each item appears on the same line as the first detail line. Not a big deal for me as I usually invoice 1-2 clients per month, but I imagine a pain for others.

  • I’d really love to see the ability to report on tasks in aggregate (e.g. “Email” => 4hrs, “Meeting” => (too many hours), “Software Development” => 30 hrs)… a lot of the time my bigger clients don’t want to see the detailed task breakdown, but they need more than just the aggregate number of all hours on the invoice or time report.

  • Matt, Charles, and David – We have no plans to change the current QuickBooks Desktop integration in any way. Everything will continue to work as it has in the past. Additionally, we’re not dropping support for IIF exports, so there is nothing to worry about there!

    Eugene, Erick, Janne, Grant, Marinos, Jennifer, Kim, Dan, Al, Abby and Keith – Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. Part of the impetus for updating exports was to make them easier to work with in the future. While we don’t have specific plans for new features or any timelines to share, I’ve made a note of each of these ideas.

    Tim – Thanks for the tip!

    As always, we’re happy to discuss any concerns anyone has more in-depth. If you’d like to, please reach out to support@harvestapp.com!

  • I understand that you are not getting rid of IIF imports. But, QuickBooks IS phasing them out. We get a message on every import that we are importing an old file format. I just want to know if you are all planning on upgrading that feature to be more compatible with future versions of QB.

  • Now this is a problem!
    We have several pivot tables that we apply on your reports, that will stop working once you make this change!
    Changing report format is not acceptable. You can ADD a new format, but you must keep the existing one (make it an option).
    Please contact me.
    Yoram

  • While you’re at it – can you ad an “all time” option to the detailed time reports!
    Thanks

  • Hi! We are using the time report monthly/yearly but in our accounting also the uninvoiced report. Unfortunately there is missing a date range option, you can only choose month/year. This report shows the total amount per project and is a very good controlling item for us. But as no date range can be chosen, it is never exactly what we are invoicing. If this can be added one time, we would have a better overview.

  • Good to see you doing progress on this! One thing that would really help me is if I could also send a time report along with my invoices. Or, preferably, as a second step afterwards.

    I would think it’s a common use case to follow up an invoice with a time report, for consultants and freelancers?

  • Another request for an Export directly to PDF – I would love to see a PDF exported looking similar to the Invoices / Estimates, with logo, etc. Thanks!

  • Great idea. I regularly use the XLS export to generate invoices & reporting. I really appreciate that you will be providing consistent outputs for the foreseeable future. A question… what is your strategy for when Harvest adds more fields? Will additional fields be appended as a new column to the right? This would work well for people (like me) who have hacked together XLS sheets that reference the data’s physical location as opposed to data reference by header.

  • Harvest has confirmed that they are going ahead with the re-ordering of Excel report columns. New columns will not be added to the end. Rather, existing columns will change. If you record a macro according to the following script, it should return the columns to the original format.

    Macro script

    # Remove the ? character from the H I J column headers
    # Change the case in the following column headers to sentence case: First name, Last name
    # Change column O header from Billable Amount to Cost
    # Add a column at the end called Currency symbol
    # Insert a column before N called Billable
    # Copy column H Billable into the new column Billable
    # In the new Billable column, find and replace all Yes with billable, and replace all No with non-billable
    # Delete column N, Employee?
    # Insert two new columns before F
    # Copy K and L (First name, Last name) into the new columns
    # Delete the former K and L (First name, Last name)
    # Delete column H Billable

  • Ron Woods March 3, 2014

    We use different Harvest Accounts for different offices (in different locations), but sometimes need to transfer time between offices. To have a smoother transition of exported time entries will be great!

    Also, if there is a better way to accomplish this, let me know! I do not, at this point, want to combine the offices into one Harvest account.

    Thanks.

  • To the President of Harvest.This is a big problem for us. On a weekly basis we use the data export as an import into another system. As soon as the format changes our system will not work. Your support people can’t tell me when it’s going to change and they cannot even guarantee that the new format will exactly match the format in the download sample. I am about to be out of town for two weeks and if the format changes while I am gone we are stuck. The vagueness of this is making it extremely difficult for me to plan accordingly. PLEASE give us a more specific timeline on this change, AND with other changes like this in the future.

  • I think it’s great that they will all match, but I wish you would give us an option to customize it. Like many other people in the comments, I copy/paste from the .csv into our internal tracking system (because Harvest doesn’t support budget tracking by task) and adding extra columns (like time started and ended, that I don’t even need) messes that up. I already have to reformat most of my exports because they way I originally formatted them (off of your import .csv template) is different than the export format, and don’t want to have to make that even more complicated.

  • Like other, we used export data into other internal systems. I did notice that the “Report>Details>Export>csv” I got this morning was significantly different from the one I got last Friday. While I do not mind updating our internal tools that are using this data, I would really prefer NOT to do that too often, so I would appreciate some clarity into what to expect. For instance, the export I got this morning was very similar to the provided example except it did not had the “started at” and “ended at” column. Are these going to show up in a few days?

  • Matt: The current Quickbooks integration works with all Quickbooks for Windows versions from 2006-2014, despite the message during import. If this stops working at some point in the future, we will have a fix ready to go.

    Yoram: Drop us a line at support@harvestapp.com, and we’ll be happy to discuss these changes with you.

    PJ: It’s hard to pinpoint a date because, for big features like this, we do gradual, incremental rollouts. That said, if you prefer, we can arrange it so you can get the new format inmediately. Write to us at support@harvestapp.com and we’ll activate the new reports for you.

    Kayla, Phil: The fields “started at” and “ended at” have always been there, but they’re only added when your account has the Track Time Via Start And End Time setting enabled. If it’s not enabled in your account, it won’t change!

    Going forward, we would suggest that you always reference columns by header from now on. Other fields might appear in the future if we add new features that make sense to include in this export.

    To everyone else: Thanks for the suggestions! It’s always good to know what you would appreciate. You can always write us at support@harvestapp.comif you want to discuss anything further!

  • I agree with Yoram and PJ.
    Completely unacceptable that you made this change.
    Export means to things like spreadsheets.
    And people will have built internal reporting mechanisms around these exports.
    The change is a nicety and cosmetic.
    By comparison my reporting isn’t.
    Cheers

  • Katherine March 6, 2014

    Hi Harvest: Is there an update on the release date for the new Time export?

    Thanks.

  • Katherine: The new format will be live on all accounts by the end of the week. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to support@harvestapp.com

  • Tim Golsby March 10, 2014

    This is incredibly frustrating. I have built a full reporting system for 100′s of projects in excel that tracks time spent against time planned as harvest doesn’t give me this. Changing the columns in your exported reports completely breaks my system. This seems incredibly short sighted and will cause a lot of pain for your many of your customers. I wish I had been warned this was going to happen, or even better consulted to see how these changes might affect my system.

  • This has gone live now? I have broken Excel macros. :( The new format is now fixed, or will there be further changes?

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