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We’ve Improved Invoice IDs

There’s long been a pet peeve at Harvest: invoice IDs. They seem so simple! But in fact, there’s a lot of complexity to the way we increment these numbers.

For most of our customers, invoice IDs are pretty easy. When you make a new invoice, we auto-assign a new ID by adding in increments of one to your last ID.

But things can get complex: not everyone wants a simple numeral-only invoice number. What if your ID includes decimals, version numbers, or client codes? The good news is, Harvest will let you do that. The bad news? We didn’t do that as well as we could have.

But wait, more good news! We’ve made some recent improvements to our IDs that should make them work much more smoothly. Here’s a quick run-down:

  • We now recognize decimals and will increment them properly. Got invoice ID 10.3? For your next invoice we’ll suggest 10.4.                decimal_ID_outline.png
  • We no longer backfill invoice IDs. We’ll just increment going forward. For example, let’s say your last ID was 400, but you manually entered ID 267 (it was from a long time ago, you just wanted it recorded). On your next invoice, we’ll now suggest ID 401 (we used to suggest 268).
  • We’re now smarter about incrementing IDs across clients who share the same ID format. For example, let’s say Acme Corp’s last invoice was 2014-INV-003, but Beta Corp’s last invoice was 2014-INV-100. We’ll now suggest invoice 2014-INV-101 for both of them. This ensures we use the proper format, but don’t backtrack.
  • We’ll now display your last ID used no matter what language or format it’s in! Got an invoice ID in Macedonian? No problem. macedonian_ID_outline.png

Other than these changes, your invoice IDs will work like they always have. When you create a new invoice for a new client, we’ll suggest an ID by adding in increments of one to your last ID used. After that, we’ll use the same format as your client’s last ID. You can also override a suggested invoice ID whenever you like.

We think these improvements will make things run much smoother for many of you. Around the office, we know they’ve made our Harvest Experts happy.

Time Tracking Insights from Jason Calacanis

Harvest customer Jason Calacanis has started companies like Weblogs, Inc. (acquired by AOL), Mahalo.com and ThisWeekIn.com. Jason recently wrote about why his businesses track time and how that has helped them make better decisions.

Time tracking is a very touchy subject in the employment space, and you have to be very, very careful implementing it if you’re not in advertising, legal or consulting (where it’s standard). Time tracking asks team members to report on which projects and tasks they are working on down to the quarter hour.

It seems annoying, but it actually isn’t a big deal. It adds about five minutes to each person’s day—max —since most folks work on fewer than 10 tasks a day. The information you can get from it can be unexpected. For example, we realized that one of our video shows was costing eight times another, with two more sitting squarely in between. When drilled down, we figured out what the more efficient shows were doing, and applied those best practices to all the other shows.

Additionally, we went to our distribution partner and said, “Look, this is costing us more and here are the numbers—we need a better deal.” We got it!

If you’re having trouble motivating your team to adopt time tracking, Jason offers some sound advice:

Now, you will get standard objections like “I’m too busy to do this” and “You don’t trust me?” The first objection tends to come from high performers, who will respond properly to “I understand you’re slammed, but if you do this, it’s a short-term cost for a long-term benefit, because we’re going to show exactly how much more effective you are than everyone else—and you can use that in your next review!”

The “You don’t trust me?” protest tends to come from “eeyores” or low performers. When they respond this way, you should look them in the eye and say, “We wouldn’t have hired you if we didn’t trust you. This is for the good of the team.” Then say nothing. If they whine some more, you can use the metaphor of athletes who track every metric under the wisdom of “If you can measure it, you can manage it.” If they still complain? Well, it might just be time to hit the eject button on that employee.

Read more about the tools Jason uses for his business in this OPEN Forum article.

A Harvest How-to: Locked entries

In certain instances, Harvest locks time entries against further edits in order to protect the integrity of the data. In each case, a small grey or green lock icon appears beside the entry. Hovering your mouse over the lock icon will reveal why the entry is locked. In all cases, administrators in the account can still edit the notes and duration of a locked entry.

In this post, I’ll explain each of the three cases when Harvest locks time entries.

When an entry is invoiced

When an invoice is created in Harvest based on time and expenses, the entries connected to that invoice are locked against further edits. Along with the specific time entries, the timeframe for the invoiced project is also locked against further entries. This is done to ensure that all billable time for a project has been included on the invoice for that timeframe.

In a detailed time report, invoiced entries are marked with a green lock icon.

To unlock an invoiced entry, you can create a detailed time report for the necessary timeframe and then mark those entries as uninvoiced.

When a record is archived

Each time entry in Harvest has four important records associated with it: a client, a project, a task and the person that made the entry. Whenever one of these records is archived, the time entries associated with it are locked against further edits.

In timesheets or detailed time reports, locked entries are marked with a grey lock icon.

To unlock an entry containing an archived record, you’ll need to reactivate the record(s) associated with it, depending on where it’s been archived (either within a project’s settings or for the whole account under the Manage screen.)

When a timesheet is approved

The last instance where time entries are locked is when all time entries for that week are submitted for approval by the user and then approved by a project manager or administrator.

In timesheets or detailed time reports, locked entries are marked with a grey lock icon.

To unlock an approved timesheet, a project manager or administrator can view the timesheet under Timesheets > Archive and click the Withdraw Approval button.

More help

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

A Harvest How-to: Archive or delete?

All records in Harvest — clients, projects, tasks and people — can be either deleted or archived. In this post, I’ll explain the difference between deleting and archiving.

Deleting

Before a record in Harvest has any time or expenses tracked against it, it can easily be deleted by clicking the Delete link for the record under its profile in the Manage section of Harvest.

Archiving

Once a record has time or expenses tracked against it, then the Delete link for that record changes to an Archive link. Archiving a record preserves the time and expense entries for that record in your reports, but also allows you to get it out of the way when it’s no longer required.

When a record in Harvest is archived, the record moves from its Manage screen to an archived list. For example, when archiving a project, that project will be removed from the Manage > Projects screen and can be reactivated by clicking the Manage Archived Projects link. This same process is used for clients, tasks and people.

Including archived items in reports

Even though a record in Harvest may be archived, you can still report on time and expense entries for that record without reactivating it. To do so, select the Include Archived Items In Filters option when creating a detailed report.

Archived users and your Harvest subscription

The cost of a Harvest subscription is calculated based on the number of active users in your account. You can have as many archived users in your account as required.

After you archive a user, you can adjust your subscription on the Account Settings screen, or you can invite a new user to fill the empty space in the subscription. This is especially useful for companies that have part-time or seasonal staff, because one user spot can be used for several people without increasing the cost of the subscription.

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

A Harvest How-to: Recurring or retainer?

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/.

A Harvest How-To: Invoice IDs

Harvest has a unique and flexible way of creating invoice IDs that can suit a wide range of businesses. Here’s a brief description of how invoice IDs work in Harvest and how you can set them up to best suit your business.

When you create a new invoice in Harvest, Harvest will suggest a new invoice ID based on the other IDs that have come before it. The suggested invoice ID can be edited during invoice creation or left as suggested. Once a draft invoice has been saved, the invoice ID is assigned to that invoice and removed as a possibility for all other invoices.

If you just leave them alone

By default, Harvest invoice IDs start at 1 and then auto-increment upward on each subsequent invoice, filling in any blanks on the way.

For example, if you’ve created ten invoices in Harvest, the default invoice IDs will be #1 through #10. If you delete #6, then the next invoice you create will be assigned ID #6 (to fill in the space created by the deletion), and the following ID would be #11.

If you want invoice IDs sorted by year

Some of our customers like to include the current year into the invoice ID. Earlier this year, we added something to help with that.

Previously Harvest would only increment the last digit in the ID, but starting in 2012, if you prepend “2012-” to your invoice ID, then on January 1st, 2013, Harvest knows to change that to “2013-“.

For example, if you have an invoice ID series that goes:

  • 2012-10765;
  • 2012-10766;
  • 2012-10767;

…then on January 1st, 2013, the next available invoice ID will be 2013-10768.

If you want to add a client ID within an invoice ID

A few of our customers like to incorporate a client ID into the invoice ID in order to make the series of IDs unique to a customer. You can do that by prepending the client ID to the invoice ID.

For example, for two clients (ABC Company and DEF Design), you can create two invoice ID series that start with “ABC-1001” and “DEF-1001” respectively. Harvest will recognize that those are client-specific ID patterns and increment them separately when a new invoice is created for either company.

If you want to include both the year and a client ID

This can also be done, but in order for Harvest to correctly increment the invoices, the identifiers need to be in the following order: YEAR-CLIENT-INVOICE.

For example, “2012-ABC-1001” and “2012-DEF-1001” will create two distinct series of invoice IDs that increment separately by both calendar year and invoice ID. On January 1st, 2013, the next available invoice IDs would be “2013-ABC-1002” and “2013-DEF-1002” respectively.

Going forward

Harvest has incredibly flexible invoice IDs that give you a wide range of possibilities. Hopefully this has helped explain how they work and how best you can configure them to suit your business.

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