Review of Harvest: User-Friendly Time Tracking with a Dash of Counter-Intuitive

harvest-daily-timesheet-00e8325f9aaacb9b16c17e21f6779959Harvest is a time-tracking SaaS with a simple and friendly interface that launched nearly ten years ago. We’ve been using it for the past nine months. Harvest integrates with browsers, and can be used via a desktop app and an iPhone app, which makes it easy to remember to use. When requesting help, they stand by their pledge: “You’ll hear back from a friendly expert within an hour.”

We primarily use Harvest as a time-tracking tool for internal purposes. While we rarely bill our legal clients by the hour (we are flat-fee and annual retainer), we track billable hours by the client, project, and task, so we know how long each task takes, and how to adjust our fees in the future. We also use the time tracking feature as the timecards to run payroll (everyone at the firm, including the founder, is paid by the hour).

The great benefit to using Harvest is that we can generate reports filtered by user, client project, or type of task, which greatly helps in revenue projection and figuring out our hiring needs. We also track the budget for each client project, so we know if our flat-fees are on track for the work provided for each particular client.

Last year we briefly considered switching to another time-tracking service, TimeCamp, because it was integrated with our CRM software. But the other service felt a bit invasive, as it was automatically tracking every action each of us performed on our computers (including work for non-EPW and personal projects). Perhaps that would be fine for a company where employees only perform work in an office on company-owned computers, but at EPW, we all work from our own computers, at home (or elsewhere).

Harvest may be a bit more complicated and challenging to learn than other services, but that translates into features that are more robust. One thing that felt a bit counter-intuitive, at least to me as a new user: I expected that the Manage tab would be a complete dashboard where we can manage everything, including adding sub-tasks to an existing Project. But once I got a bit of feedback from Elizabeth and guidance from the support team, I found how to add sub-tasks from the Actions drop down menu on the Projects page. Like any service, there are features that make perfect sense and others that take a bit of learning.

While we are not currently integrating it with any other service, with Harvest’s open API, those options are available. Our plan is to stick with Harvest for the foreseeable future.

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