A step-by-step guide to creating projects in Harvest.

We’ll take you through setting up your projects first, since projects are the hub of all activity in Harvest. To start setting up a project, head to your Projects section, then click New Project in the top left of the page.

Create Project Form

When you create a project, you’ll first enter the Client and Name of that project. There are also a few optional pieces of information you can add:

  • Project Code to help identify your project.
  • Start and End Date, so you can track when the project was started, and see if it’s approaching its deadline. This does not limit the ability to track time to that date range.
  • Notes for any additional information you’d like to include, such as a statement of work or comments on the scope of the project.

Invoice Method

One of the useful parts of project setup is the Invoice Method and Budget. These will drive how your reports and invoices look in Harvest. The best invoice method for you depends on how you already organize your projects:

Do you bill your clients at an hourly rate? You may refer to this as time and materials.

Billing hourly means that you get paid for the number of hours you actually spend working on the project. Harvest lets you choose from several different types of hourly rates when creating a project:

Person hourly rate – Based on the hourly rate for each member of your team. Each team member you add to the project will need to have a billable rate entered.

Team Billable Rates

Project hourly rate – You’ll enter just one hourly rate for the entire project. This rate gets applied to all billable hours tracked to the project, regardless of who works on it or what type of work is being done.

Project Hourly Rate

Task hourly rate – Based on the hourly rate for each task added to the project. You’ll need to enter billable rates for all billable tasks.

Task Hourly Rate

Do you bill your clients with a fixed fee? This is also known as a ‘flat rate or ‘set contract’ budget.

If you are billing your client a fixed amount of money for the overall project, you have a few ways to set that up. First, you can set the Invoice Method to Do not apply hourly rate. This will allow you to keep track of time spent on the project for internal reporting purposes. When you go to invoice the client, simply create a free-form invoice and enter the project fee.

However, it’s worth considering using a task hourly rate and setting it up to budget by Fees per task. This way, you can set a budget for individual tasks within the overall project—those tasks could be phases or simply different activities within the project. The hours on the fixed-fee project should still be billable in order to track time against the budget and check profitability.

Note that in this case you’d still be using a free-form invoice, so the uninvoiced amount wouldn’t be accurate. You can still mark the hours as invoiced within Harvest to keep track of the time you’ve billed and subtract it from the uninvoiced amount; find out how to do that here.

Task Hourly Rate

Do you bill your clients with retainers?

Retainers should be used for clients who have a continuous stream of work throughout the year. The retainer is paid in advance or in regular intervals to acquire those hours.

For Harvest projects you set up for your clients who pay a retainer, you’ll want to make sure that the Invoice Method is on and is applying a rate, even if the retainer is for a fixed amount. This is because when you go to create an invoice that draws from the retainer, the invoice will need to pull from project hours and expenses. Free-form invoices cannot draw from retainers. For more information on creating retainers, take a look at this page.

Are you trying to track an internal, non-billable project?

Toggle the Invoice Method to OFF. You’ll still be able to track time to the project, but you can’t create invoices from time tracked to this project. A common example of this would be an internal project used to track matters within your company.


Now that you have an idea of how you’re going to bill for your projects, it’s time to set up a Budget. You’ll see how you’re doing against your budget in real time so you can keep your project on track (and have a chat with your client if necessary). There are two categories of budget methods, hourly and fee-based.

Hourly budgeting. Billable and non-billable hours count towards these budgets:

  • Total project hours – Just like it sounds! Set a time budget for the entire project.
  • Hours per person – Set a budget for each individual person on the project.
  • Hours per task – Set a budget for each separate activity on the project.

Fee-based budgeting. Only billable hours count towards these budgets:

  • Total project fees – Choose this method if you need to include project expenses as part of the budget, not just time. You might want to use this if you’re billing your client for your expenses and need to see how they affect the budget.
  • Fees per task – Recommended for fixed fee projects.


Tasks allow the team to track time to the specific work they’re doing for the project. There are a set of tasks on the project by default, called Common Tasks. You can add tasks to a project by selecting from the list or by simply typing into the Add a task field. To remove a task from the project, just click the ‘X’ next to the task name.

The Common Tasks can be managed under Manage > Tasks. Here you can set up defaults for each task, like its rate or whether or not it’s billable. You can override any of these default settings for a task on individual projects.


People on a project’s Team are able to track time and expenses to it. Project Managers are designated here by a checked box; you can give other team members Project Manager permissions by checking the Project Manager checkbox, or you can leave them with their existing permission levels. We’ll show you how you can add your team members to your Harvest account and manage their permissions and rates in the next section.

Just like with Tasks, you can add people to a project by selecting from the drop-down menu. Simply click the ‘X’ next to a person’s name to remove them from the project.

Click Save Project, and you’re ready to go! If you need to make changes later, it’s not a problem—you can adjust these settings at any time.

On to the next! Show me how to add my co-workers to Harvest.