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Project Management posts:

Forecasted Project Health now supports Fee-based Budgets

Earlier this year we announced a tighter integration between Harvest + Forecast, combining your tracked hours with your scheduled hours. This update allows you to compare your team’s estimates vs actuals, and also reveals real-time project health, so you know ahead of time if you’ll go over your hours budget.

We’re happy to announce that we recently added two nice updates to this project health portion of our integration.

  1. We’ll now show if you’ll be over or under budget in the Forecast summary for all budget types, including fee-based budgets.
  2. If we are able to calculate the projected fees, we’ll also show that in the summary, even if you’ve selected an hours-based budget.

This means you’ll be able to know ahead of time if you will go over or come under your fee budget right in the summary!

project-health

Note: To calculate projected fees, you will need to select an invoice method of Project Hourly Rate or Person Hourly Rate.

We know that, at the end of the day, knowing where you stand against your projected fees is critical to your business. We think this update will help you run your projects more smoothly and efficiently.

Bonus! We’ve also just rolled out the “money graph”, which means we will show you a graph of your project’s progress against the monetary budget you have set for any projects budgeted by fees. This graph will also includes projected budget data from Forecast.

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!

Assign Company-Wide Holidays and Closings in Forecast

Harvest HQ is closed for a holiday nine times in 2015, and we also host two week-long company-wide summits throughout the year. We know that you have your own company-wide holidays, closings, outings, and summits, and we want to make those easier to manage when scheduling your projects.

Now in Harvest Forecast, instead of tediously assigning Time Off for each person individually, we’re introducing a much simpler way to mark these days off for your entire company.

Previously, assigning time off for everyone would mean a separate row for every person, which could fill your entire screen with noise for just one holiday. Now, that time off will be rolled up into just one row.

cwto

Simply select “Everyone” from the “Assign Person to Project…” option on the Time Off project and assign the days as you normally would. As always, you can use the Notes field to explain what the Time Off is for. And this company-wide assignment behaves like any other Time Off assignment, showing up in all project rows to help you avoid scheduling projects on these days off.

We hope you enjoy this new feature. If you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at support@forecastapp.com.

Smarter Project Scheduling with Harvest and Forecast

Today, we’re proud to unveil the first step of the highly anticipated integration between our two products, Harvest and Forecast. The project budgets in Harvest will now be reference-able from Forecast in real time. You can now compare the hours you have left in a project budget with the hours you have scheduled from today through the end of a project. With this first point of integration, using Harvest with Forecast lets you make smarter scheduling decisions. Here’s how it looks in Forecast:

Remaining Budgeted Hours Demo

Scheduling With Insight

As a project manager, you are constantly striking the balance between deadlines, your team’s availability, and the project budgets. Forecast provides a realistic view of your team’s schedule, availability, and commitments. By referencing future scheduled hours, you can quickly see how many hours are committed across your projects and team members. For projects linked to Harvest, you can easily compare these hours against the actual budget left. This handy feature informs your scheduling and ultimately keep your projects running smoothly.

For example, if your project is scheduled to take another 300 hours (in Forecast), but you only have 280 hours left in the budget (according to Harvest), you can take action before it’s a bigger problem. Maybe you need to talk to your client to revisit the scope, or talk to the finance team to see if there’s room to increase the budget. By having quick access to these key numbers, you will be better equipped to keep projects predictable and clients happy.

More To Come

This is just the first step of the Harvest and Forecast integration. We’re excited to bring together the information from these products in a way that will not only save you time, but provide a new level of insight to help you manage projects.

In the near future, we’ll bring Forecast data into our new Projects section. Our goal is to help customers not only see where they are in their project budgets, but to also see it alongside the expected efforts needed to complete the projects. We’ll share more details about this in a future post.

We hope you enjoy this new feature and if you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to reach out the team at support@forecastapp.com.

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!

Customize Max Hours Per Day in Forecast

In July, we introduced Harvest Forecast, a whole new way to schedule your team’s time. Since then, hundreds of companies have adopted Forecast as their tool of choice for team planning. While this has been an exceptional beginning, we’ve been hard at work to make Forecast even better.

Starting today, you can customize the max hours per day for each person. Until now, every person in Forecast is scheduled against a default of eight hours per day. Many customers have asked for this to be flexible to match their needs and we listened. If your entire team schedule around something other than eight hours per day, or if certain individuals on the team have unique availability, you can now accurately reflect that in Forecast. Learn more about how to customize hours per day in our Help Center.

customize max hours per day

This is the first of more updates to come. If you find yourself struggling with unwieldy resource planning spreadsheets or programs, we welcome you to give Forecast a try.

New! Mark Expenses as Billable or Nonbillable

Here at Harvest, we know projects are more than the sum of their hours. Lunch with a client, supplies for a project, tickets to Comic Con? All of this can be tracked in Harvest with our expenses feature.

The trouble is, there’s no way to flag which expenses you’ll pass on to your clients, and which are just internal.

But that’s changing! Today you’ll be able to mark your expenses as billable (invoiceable to your client) or nonbillable.

billable expenses

That billable box will be checked by default, since our Spider-Sense tells us you’ll want to cash in on those expenses. There are a few other things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • We’ll pull only billable expenses into invoices.
  • Your projects’ uninvoiced amounts exclude nonbillable expenses.
  • Your expense report exports have changed. When you export expenses to CSV or Excel, you’ll see a new column titled “Billable?”; it’ll indicate your expense’s billable status. We’ve also made a few other edits to the expense report’s export format to make it consistent with time exports. Here’s a sample expense export so you can know what to expect.

Now if we could only figure out how Spidey’s web-shooters work, we could cut out those travel expenses…

Feature Update, October 31, 2014

We heard your feedback, and recently updated this feature to allow for more flexibility with default settings and billable status.

If a project is set up as non-billable, its expenses will default to non-billable. If a project is set up as billable, its expenses default to billable. We hope this makes this feature even more easy to use!

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 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!

Pricing Update (8/15)

After listening to input from many of you, and after deep consideration on our part, we’ve decided it’s best to price by person rather than by projects. You can learn about our new pricing here.

This past month has been an amazing ride, and we’ve heard a lot of great feedback and feature requests, many of which were already on our roadmap. We’re looking forward to sharing these updates with you in the coming months.