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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:


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


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:


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

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This was posted in New Features, Product News, Project Management.
  • Great addition to the platform. This will make a big difference to the efficiency of tracking progress against budget. Keep the updates coming!

  • Are going to implement turning an estimate into a project with budgeted tasks, this would be a big time saver?

  • Great future – even though I agree with Steve that integration of budgets and projects – ie just linking estimates to projects – would be a huge upgrade.

  • Excellent approach. Very logical, very good. Saves me a lot of time.

  • been waiting for this feature for ages – thanks Harvest!

  • A decent start, but yes I really hope this paves the way to integrating estimates / projects as it almost feels like I’m using two different systems at the moment. Our workflow.

    – Create estimate for client
    – Approve
    – Manually create project budget by task manually adding any common tasks like Design / Development together from the Estimate.
    – Perform work
    – Adjust total budget if variations occur
    – Alternately invoice from the project by editing the hours to match original estimate or invoice from estimate.

    Stronger links between Clients, Estimates, Jobs and Projects would be ideal. So even just being able to click a link from a client page to their Estimate or Job would save a lot of time.

  • I can confirm the workflow that Morgan described above – I actually think that everyone that works based on pre-approved budgets (using Harvest for tracking efficiency and internal costs) has to use a similar workflow and any improvements would be great!

  • Will it be possible to assign tasks in Forecast too ? I use the tasks list to divide my client order that covers up to 20 different locations (rather than create 20 projects as it is all on one order and therefore one invoice) … but would like to forecast the tasks (locations) through the year and then report back on it.

    This latest service takes a step that way for me so it’s still great news !

  • Steinar Koffeld on June 16, 2015


    What we are eagerly waiting for now, is monthly budgets. We have a lot of ongoing assignments at customers where the spend per month is what matters. To be able to use the budget feature and alarms within Harvest would be really valuable!

  • The issue that causes us pain with Harvest is that we have sub-contractors that we pay different amounts to on different projects. For example, a Developer may cost us $80/hr on one project, but on another project the same Developer will cost us $95/hr. The cost of sub-contractors always varies based upon the type of work we have them doing.

  • Josh Waller on June 17, 2015

    Love the update. Turning estimates into projects and linking them would be awesome.

  • Awesome Feature! – One feature we haven’t been able to find support for – If I have a client that gets 4 free hours of support monthly, and then gets charged after that, there is no support to apply this. It would be great to be able to set the budget for 4 hours of non-billable, and then begin charging per the project setup after that.

  • Guys, it would be good if you could allow both sets of budgets to be active at once i.e. check how i am tracking against my hourly allowance but also see how i am tracking against the overall project budget (including expenses etc)

  • Great addition – been asking for this for several years. As an architectural firm, this is exactly how we track most internal project fees, but we need more: Can I add budgets for consultant expenses? Example: I may hire a structural engineer for a $10,000 fee with $500 allowance for his reimbursable expenses. Can I set an expense budget for these two categories as well?

  • Great addition! Would still like to see a more realistic workflow for linking estimates to projects, etc. I can confirm the workflow mentioned in the commenting above it’s a huge slow down.

  • Samuel Lavoie on June 22, 2015

    Great addition, getting back into Freelancing and really pumped by all the new features/design you guys added to the platform! :-D

  • Nice feature!
    Two feature requests related to this
    1. Enable tasks in forecast
    2. Separate the three cost concepts of “target” < "forecast" < "budget" where
    – forecast is our best guestimates
    – budget = forecast + %contingency
    – target is < forecast

  • Brilliant, thank you very much!

  • Hello everyone,

    Thanks very much for all of your feedback!

    We’re thinking about how to improve the overall workflow as well. But because of all the projects we have coming up, it’s not likely that we will work on Estimates this year (there are just a few months left!).

    However, we do hope to make the second half of the workflow better: namely the connection between projects and invoices, especially for fixed-fee projects.

    Steiner: we hope to get monthly budget ready soon. The new Projects section has set the foundation for all the new budget features!

    Dale: thanks for the suggestion. We probably won’t be able to support budget to such granularity, but we’ll keep your idea in mind for future improvements.

    Mark: if you set up the project a certain way, you can get both time & money budget data. Why don’t you write us and we can take a look at how you set up projects, and we can give you better recommendations?

    David & Ron: I just emailed you about your issues, as they’re more complicated than I can help with here.

  • Colin & Gustav: We probably won’t be bringing task support to Forecast in the near future, as we continue to develop it as a high-level estimate (or guestimate) of work at the project level. That said, we are planning to have Forecasted hours support this new Budget by Task Fees budget type (as well as the current Budget by Task Hours). Stay tuned for more information on that in the near future.

  • We have clients that create multiple Purchase Orders (PO) numbers for the same client project. For example initial project gets PO#1 and if there is an extension on that project then those would be PO#2, etc.

    Is there a way to associate multiple PO numbers with a project and track at that sub level?

    We were thinking of using the concept of Tasks under Projects to track separate Tasks. Is there a way to associate different Purchase Order (PO) numbers to different Tasks within the same Project?

  • I love harvest and all these improvements. Looking forward to monthly budget functionality.

  • Joshua Hodge on August 19, 2015

    I love this feature. I second Dale’s request to be able to record non-billable time for a client before starting billable time. In the same vein, it would be beneficial to turn off billing after a set number of hours. For example, if a client has only approved 10 hours on a task but I spend 12 hours, it would be helpful to bill for the 10 hours and record the additional 2 hours as non-billable.

    One other feature that would be useful is the ability to discount only the service portions of an invoice. I may offer a client a 15% discount on my fees but still need to bill the full amount for expenses, such as mileage.

  • Great feature!
    Is it possible to link expenses to a task? We would like to reserve one task in our project budget for invoices (not spent ours). Is that possibel?

  • Monthly budgets that reset on the 1st of each month would be a huge help. Is there a timeline on this feature being implemented?

  • Joe Sircar on October 21, 2015

    Great great feature!!! Thanks so much, Harvest! Tool keeps getting better.

  • Liz Hermans on October 29, 2015


    Another vote for strong monthly budgets. What is costing us hours every month (with a 10 person team) is people who accidentally add stuff to a monthly budget when it is already full – the budget goes in “red” while we can just add a new monthly budget for the same client.

    To fix it, they have to manually find every timesheet entry and add it to a new monthly budget.

    We have been asking you for years to please give us the possiblity to trigger a new budget line for a monthly budget when people have reached the end of the line.

    User story would look a bit like this:

    – is the monthly budget line full (after putting in the entry)? If no > put it in, if yes > fill the line untill 100 % of the budget is filled + add a new budget line for the same amount + add the remaining budget on the new line.

    By doing that, you would save my company 10k+ every year easily. It’s great that you expand integrations and the UI, but please, please do continue to work on the core functionality that so many users have been begging you for.

    This is an issue that is bringing our team to tears every month – the endless searching in timesheets to transfer hours of 5+ people to a new budget line, all of it non billable. Our people hate it, they are complaining about it, but somehow they can’t manage to not overbill lines (especially since in the Chrome widget, it’s not possible to see how much % of a budget has been used).

    If you want, we will pay for the development. Or, just add access to the budget lines to the API so we can write it ourselves. Just, please, please, please solve this?

    If there are other people with this problem, please consider upvoting this. I’m sure in many agencies and law firms this very same issue pops up.

  • I think something else that would be helpful is that once you exceed the budget (either at the task or the project), don’t show the exceed time as billable.

    When you have extra hours on fixed price project showing up as billable, the reports become less useful because they are showing time that you will not be able to bill.

    This is my biggest pain point. When I go to the reports dashboard, I can see that everyone is working on billable projects, but not necessarily on projects that have any budget remaining (which means they are not working on a billable project).


  • This looked like a great workaround. But I believe I’ve encountered one big problem. When you budget by tasks, Harvest does not “count” billable expenses against your budget. Only billable time.

    That’s because harvest won’t allow expenses to be tagged to a task. This makes monitoring your budget confusing at best. And impossible at worst, if your project includes many billable expenses.

    Please let me know if I’m missing something. I hope I am!


  • +1 on Monthly Budget.

    Also interested to know expected timelines on this feature being available.


  • Please add an option to make all hours nonbillable once the fixed fee amount has been reached. Ideally, this would further have the flexibility to be applied on a per task basis or on a whole project basis as our needs are different from project to project. Thanks for all of the recent developments related to projects.

  • Agree with Shaun – the fact, that billable expenses don’t get subtracted from the budget is very confusing.


  • So looking forward to the monthly budget feature, please!

  • Michael on May 4, 2016

    Yet another +1 for a monthly budget feature!

  • Reiterating that we all have been eagerly waiting for the monthly budget feature! <3

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