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Posts by Shawn Liu:

Help Us Build a More Diverse and Inclusive Harvest

Harvest has been in business for eleven years. We started as a team of four, and today we have a team of fifty wonderful, smart, kind, and humble people. Our products serve over 50,000 businesses from around the world (that’s not a hyperbole–we really have customers from over a hundred countries!), and we’ve had the good fortune to be profitable and sustainable from the beginning. Best of all, we’ve never taken any investment, so we have no one to answer to but ourselves and can take this business wherever we wish.

By most standards, things are great at Harvest. But we do have one glaring problem.

When we look at our team, we find only men in our top leadership positions. We see twenty-seven people on the product team and just two women. And there isn’t just a disparity in gender–there’s also a racial disparity.

As co-founders of Harvest, this is troubling for Danny and me, especially because we’re usually considered to represent “diversity” in this country (Danny and I are Asian American). We’ve faced racism and exclusion throughout our lives, and we care deeply about social justice, diversity, and equality. Yet, somehow, we forgot about diversity at our own business.

Our excuse was that this wasn’t intentional: we didn’t set out to hire only dudes for our product team, and we didn’t mean for most of our women employees to be on the customer service team.

But that’s an excuse. And excuses are part of the problem.

Continue reading…

New Feature: Budget by Task Fees

Not all budgets are created equal. Here at Harvest, we know how important it is to keep track of those budgets, no matter how big or small. Budget tracking ensures your projects run smoothly, efficiently, and profitably. In the past few months, we’ve made big strides toward bettering your budget experience—we released Forecast, project graphs, and a recent integration between Forecast and Harvest Projects.

In the next few days, we’ll be rolling out another new feature that’ll help with all your budgeting needs: the ability to budget by fees per task.

Let’s take a typical fixed-fee project that’s composed of phases:

  • Phase 1: Research  | Budget: $5,000
  • Phase 2: Design  | Budget: $8,000
  • Phase 3: Implementation  | Budget: $5,000
  • Phase 4: Launch  | Budget: $3,000

How would you set up that project in Harvest? Some of you might budget by total project fees. That works fine, but you won’t be able to track the project’s progress at a more granular level.

The other option is to budget by hours per task. The trouble is, you can’t translate your fees into hours—different people might work on the same phase at different billable rates.

Let’s fix that problem! Our new feature makes it possible for you to break down project fees by tasks. Simply edit a project, and choose the “Fees per task” option:

budget-method

Then scroll down to the Tasks section and type in your fees:

budget-form

Make sure you set an Invoice Method and specify your billable rates and Harvest will do the rest!  If you head to your Project Analysis page, you’ll find this useful report—a breakdown of your project progress by task fees:

budget-table

We hope you find this new feature useful! And as usual, we’d love to hear what you think.

Polishing Projects

Since we released Projects a few months ago, we’ve made several small but important improvements. You may have noticed the start and end dates we added in April. But we didn’t stop there. Our team’s been hard at work polishing Projects to get it working its best.

The most significant update is to the Tasks and Team tables on the Project Analysis page. If you budget your project by task or team hours, that table used to look like this:

tasks-before

Some items might have a budget and some might not, which made the table hard to read. We updated the design to separate items with a budget from those without, making the information much easier to scan and understand:

tasks-after

While we were at it, we also made two other useful improvements to the tables:

  1. If you specify billable rates, Harvest can show you the budget’s progress in both time and money.
  2. We brought in some pretty bar charts to make it easier to visualize each budget’s progress.

Clearer Graph Tooltips

Some of you found the Project Progress graph’s tooltips confusing. That’s because the tooltip header displayed only the week you were looking at, as if the data you saw were for that one week only. However, each data point on the graph is a cumulative of all the hours up to that week. Still with me? These screenshots should clear things up:

budget-tooltip

Much better!

Improved Interaction for Editing Tasks or Team

In the past, if you removed a person or task from your project, Harvest would simply hide that item on the screen. We made that decision with good intentions, thinking that it would simplify the design. But there are two problems with hiding info that we didn’t consider.
First, if you removed a person or task from your project, the related budget would be hidden. That made the budget total at the bottom of the Edit Project table wrong. Second, the information on the Edit Project form wouldn’t match the Project Analysis page:

polish-4

That’s not good! We fixed this problem by updating the Project Edit form—it now shows the tasks or people that have been removed from your project:

polish-5

We hope these small polishes make your job easier when reviewing projects in Harvest!

Harvest Projects

new-projects

It’s here!

In the next few days, we’re rolling out our new Projects section to all accounts. This release should be seamless, and you won’t have to do a thing. Projects will simply show up on your top navigation, next to Timesheets.

The new Projects section is a significant leap forward for Harvest, and from all the early feedback we’ve received so far, we believe you’re going to love it.

A Better Way to Manage Projects

For the next few weeks, the new Projects section will live in your account like a little something extra. This gives you a long leeway to explore the new section and fit it into your workflow.

You’ll notice some brand-new features in Projects: a better and faster search, the ability to track project costs, and two project lifespan graphs. You can check out this new section of our Help Center for a few tips about getting started.

By the end of the year, Projects will replace two sections in your Harvest account:

  1. Manage > Projects
  2. Project Budget Report

But don’t worry! You’ll still have all the same features, and we’ve taken great care to ensure that the user experience is similar to what you’ve grown used to in Harvest.

Here’s to the Future

The new Projects section is the foundation for many useful features to come, such as our integration with Forecast and better support for fixed-fee projects. These are features that many of you have been asking for, and we’re excited to finally make those ideas come true.

We’ll be on hand to help you transition to Projects, and there’ll be ample time to upgrade from your old sections to the new. If you have any questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at support@harvestapp.com.

We hope you enjoy the new Projects section, and look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Harvest Projects and Browser Compatibility

When we began working on our new Harvest Projects section, we had one vision: a unified place in Harvest where you could edit, manage, and report on your projects. We’re putting the final touches on Projects now, and can’t wait to share the results with you. But there’s an important thing to keep in mind.

Harvest Projects comes with many new, useful features. In order for them to work properly, we’re using new technology that’s available only on modern web browsers. That means the new Harvest Projects section will not support Internet Explorer 8 or 9.

This change won’t affect the majority of our Harvest accounts. However, 2% of our customers use these older versions of IE. If that’s one of you, we strongly recommend that you switch to Google Chrome or Firefox, or upgrade to a newer version of IE.

Curious what an upgrade will get you? Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store for our new Harvest Projects:

projects-sneak

We’ll be on hand to help with this transition, and there’ll be ample time to upgrade to our new Projects section. If you have any questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at support@harvestapp.com!

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.

A New Design for Harvest Expenses

Before starting Harvest, Danny and I ran a small web design studio. As contractors for some of our clients, we had to submit weekly time and expense forms—gotta get reimbursed for gas and all the ham sandwiches we ate! When we launched Harvest in 2006, we didn’t include expense tracking in our initial version, but soon added it a few months later.

Time flies: Harvest Expenses officially turned six years old on January 7th this year.

We’re excited to start 2014 with our shiny new Harvest Expenses (the third incarnation, if you’re keeping track). In this first round of updates, we focused on overhauling the front-end code, with a few selected changes in the back-end that will allow us to bring new features to Harvest Expenses later this year.

New Harvest Expenses

Ledger-Style View

We’re dropping the current weekly expenses view in favor of a ledger-style display. In the soon-to-be-retired version, we show expenses one week at a time, which makes it unnecessarily difficult to review or to enter past expenses (you have to click multiple times to get to the right week).

The new expenses view shows a hundred most recent expenses on the initial load, likely to cover the past few months’ worth of entries for review. To enter a new expense, there’s a handy date selector—so you can say goodbye to that multiple-click navigation. To make that change we had to alter the entire structure of our expenses’ display—which turned out to be a lot harder than it sounds!

Other UI Goodies

Some other smaller improvements we’ve made:

  • The overall look and feel is now consistent with Timesheets.
  • The project and category dropdowns are now searchable, using our beloved Chosen library.
  • If you’re using a modern browser, you can drag and drop receipts into the expense form.

All of us here at Harvest use our expenses feature to track everything that needs to be reimbursed. We’re excited about these latest updates and hope you find them as useful as we do. Thanks for your continued support, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Update (March 4th, 2014): We just added Weekly Totals to the interface. Thank you for all the feedback, and we hope to bring more improvements to Harvest Expenses later this year!

Timesheet Improvements: Easier Scanning and Fixed Date Row

Last week we made some improvements to the Harvest Timesheet; we fixed a few bugs and improved the performance overall. We also made a few usability improvements, most notably to the week view:

week-view

  1. When you’re entering time in the week view, it can be hard to quickly scan and see which date (column) and project (row) you’re on. We’ve put in some subtle visual cues to make it easier to quickly identify where you are on the timesheet.
  2. Some of you have a lot of project-task rows on your timesheet. When you scroll down, the header row used to disappear, and you couldn’t see which day you were tracking your time to. The date header row now sticks to the top page: as you scroll down, it’ll stay on the screen.
  3. We removed the row delete confirmation for empty rows (and if you need to add the row back, click “+ Add Row” and it’ll default to the project and task of the row you just removed). This is a subtle tweak that should save you some time.

We hope these improvements make time tracking a little easier and faster for you!

Timesheet Keyboard Shortcuts

We have been making a lot of improvements to the new Harvest Timesheet. Today, I wanted to show power users the fastest way to use it.

Knowing just a few simple keyboard shortcuts, you can start a timer or enter time without ever having to use a mouse. See it in action:

  • n‘ to open up the new entry form,
  • Use tab to move between the form elements,
  • esc‘ to cancel out of the form,
  • If you are tracking time via duration, we accept a variety of formats (1.2 = 1 hour and 12 minutes) and simple time math.
  • If you are using timestamps, we understand “11.25” or “1125” (faster than typing 11:25) or “9a”, short for 9:00am.

We’re starting out with a limited and simple set of shortcuts, and we’d love to hear what shortcuts you’d like to see for the timesheet!

The New Harvest Timesheet

After months of hard work, we are thrilled to finally unveil the new Harvest Timesheet.

This new timesheet is a giant step forward from the previous version. The interface is redesigned from the ground up. We sweated over every pixel and interaction, down to the timer animation on the “Stop” button. The codebase has been rewritten from scratch, and the new timesheet now has a stronger and more reliable engine that will serve us well for years to come. We think you’re going to be pleased with the resulting product – a faster, simpler, smoother, and more powerful new Harvest Timesheet:

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