Harvest has three types of invoices: standard, recurring and retainer. Each of them has separate functions, and each of them mean different things in different industries. In this post, I’ll explain how they were designed in Harvest.

Standard Invoices

Standard invoices are what you would expect: a straightforward invoice that you can send to your clients, and something that clients can use to initiate an online payment. They can be created based on time and expenses or as free-form invoices.

Invoices based on time and expenses will import time and expenses from billable projects according to the client and timeframe that you specify. Free-form invoices do not pull in any time and expenses, so you can create an invoice from scratch.

Recurring Invoices

Recurring invoices are free-form invoices that are created on the interval that you specify — daily, weekly, quarterly or yearly. You have the option to have the recurring invoice be automatically sent to the client or to be saved as a draft that you can review.

Recurring invoices are best used for products or services that are billed cyclically (weekly, monthly, etc) and when those products and services do not need a reconciliation against a number of hours worked. Things like general consulting and web hosting would be good candidates for recurring invoices.

Retainer invoices

When a client pays for part of a project in advance and those funds have to later be reconciled against the work that has been done, then it’s best to use a retainer invoice to start the project.

Once a funded retainer is recorded in Harvest, when a project or phase of a project is complete, you can create a standard invoice and Harvest will give you the option to draw from the retainer to pay for all or part of the standard invoice.

If the standard invoice exceeds the retainer funds available, then the balance will be reflected on the invoice that you can then send to the client. If the retainer funds exceed the amount of the invoice, then the difference will be stored on the retainer and can be applied to a future invoice.

Recurring or retainer?

If payment is required on a regular and repeated basis for products and services, then use a recurring invoice in Harvest. If a reconciliation is required between an advance payment and the work that is subsequently done on a project, then use a Harvest retainer.

For more help with Harvest, be sure to check out our Getting Started info and other help documentation at http://getharvest.com/help/.