- Powerful time tracking
- Team management
- Beautiful interface
- Basic job costing
- Amazing customer service
Though it started out with a simple focus on time tracking in 2006, Harvest has grown considerably over the last decade and now encompasses invoicing and project management. Currently, the company boasts over 40,000 users, including some big names like Kiva and CNET. They’ve also received a lot of press attention and a few awards.
Even after expanding into the invoicing world, the software is still focused on time and team management (instead of having pseudo-accounting features like most other invoicing options). For service-based companies, these features are a welcome change.
In addition to strong project management and time tracking, Harvest has a beautiful interface and wonderful customer service. Despite a few navigational drawbacks and limited invoicing for product-based companies, Harvest is a powerful and unique software that is worth investigating.
Continue reading this review to learn more.
Table of Contents
Harvest offers a free 30-day trial of their paid software. No credit card information is required. After the trial, there are two pricing options. You can either downgrade to the free plan, or you can upgrade to their paid plan and retain the same features. Payments are made monthly and can be canceled at any time. There is a 10% discount for annual payments.
- Unlimited invoices
- Unlimited clients
- Two projects
- One user
- $12/mo per user
- Unlimited invoices
- Unlimited estimates
- Unlimited clients
- Project management
- Time tracking
- 100+ integrations
A 15% discount is available for nonprofit and education companies, a 10% discount is offered for using Harvest and Harvest Forecast together, and special pricing is available for teams of 50+. To top off all of these savings, there is even a referral program that allows you to get more money back.
Web-Hosted or Locally-Installed
Web-hosted. No downloads or installation required.
Hardware or Software Requirements
Specific Size of Business
Harvest is ideal for small businesses in need of powerful time tracking and project management. The projects and invoicing features seem designed predominantly for service-based companies, such as web developers, programmers, graphic designers, etc. Product-based companies can still use the software but will have to use more roundabout methods. With the paid plan, you can have as many users as you would like (though it may get a little expensive paying per person).
The free plan is more limited (only one user and two projects), and I would most likely only recommend it to micro businesses or freelancers who rely on invoicing more than project management.
Ease of Use
Harvest is an easy to use, beautifully designed software. I haven’t been wowed by a software design in quite some time (after awhile they all look the same), but I found myself incredibly impressed with Harvest. And with strong customer support, anyone can learn and use Harvest.
- Set Up – Set up is an easy, quick process. You simply add your business information, number of users, and a few other preferences. Then you are good to go! I would begin in one of two places, either by adding your employees or diving into Settings. In Settings, you will need to enable features like estimates, client management, and expense tracking (these features can be found under “modules”). I’d add your clients before creating projects and invoices to make your life a little easier. There is also a Welcome screen that helps guide you to an extent.
- Organization – Features are listed in a toolbar across the top of the screen with tabs labeled Timesheets, Projects, Team, Reports, Invoices, Estimates, and Manage. Each tab has a secondary toolbar underneath it for easy navigation. There are help and setting buttons in the top right corner.
- Instructions and Guidance – Harvest is generally easy to understand and well-organized, although there a few tricky navigation aspects I had to ask support about. Fortunately, Harvest has amazing customer support. During business hours, emails and support forms receive responses within an hour. There is also a Help Center and a Getting Started webinar for a little extra support.
- Problems – While there are many aspects of Harvest I have grown to love, there are a few issues with the software that make the user experience a little rougher than it needs to be.
- No Dashboard – There isn’t a dashboard in Harvest. This isn’t the end of the world, but it would be really nice to see the status of your projects, employees, invoices, and expenses all in one place instead of having to hop around.
- No Separate Billing Address – In the Client Manage section, there is no way to enter separate shipping and billing addresses.
- Only a Client Portal for Estimates – There is only a Client Portal for customers viewing estimates; invoices are sent as .pdf attachments. I would have loved to see a more developed Client Portal for both functions.
- Not Always Intuitive – The software seems to be organized well at first–until you start trying to find things, that is. For example, expenses are entered under timesheets. Other navigation issues revolve predominantly around the invoice feature. With invoicing, you can’t save a product list, and invoicing a fixed, flat rate to clients requires a long, roundabout backdoor.
- Dollar Sign – Is it just me or is the dollar symbol a really weird looking shape? Really, though. If anyone knows what is going on with that, please help me figure it out.
Harvest’s unique set of features includes the following:
- Invoicing – You can create an invoice “based on tracked time and expenses,” which will pull information from an existing project. Alternatively, you can choose a free-form invoice, which allows you to create a flat service fee or product-based invoices. The only issue with free-form invoices is that your products don’t save. But for service-based invoices based on existing product information, creating invoices is a piece of cake. Under the Configure section, you can add a company logo (paid plan only), enable snail mail, set default email messages, create default thank you notes, and add reminder messages. You can also give customers the option to pay online through PayPal or Stripe. Recurring invoices and duplicate invoice automation are a nice touch. Customer receive invoices as pdf attachments.
- Estimates (Paid Plan Only) – When you send an estimate, customers receive a link to their own client portal where they can view decline, or accept invoices. Harvest will send you an email once an estimate is accepted. You can then view your “accepted estimates” and convert the estimate into an invoice from there
- Contacts – In Harvest, Clients are different than Contacts. You first have to create a Client by going to the Manage tab. Here you will input company contact information. (The Avengers, 890 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, for example.) Once you’ve created a Client (or Company), you can add specific contact information, or even include multiple contacts. So, for the sake of our example, if you’re trying to reach Stark Industries, care of the Avengers, you’ll be able to see information for Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. The setup takes a little getting used to, but the logical side of my brain really likes it in the end.
- Team Management (Paid Plan Only) – The team management feature is where you can add new employees and manage existing employees. When adding an employee, you can input basic contact information, differentiate between employee and contractor, and set a max hour capacity. There are three different levels of user permissions. Regular users can only see their own time and assigned projects. Project managers are able to edit and manage their projects, as well as manage their own time. Administrators have full access to all features, including reports, project creation, and the ability to view all other team members’ progress. When you add a new employee, they receive an email and are prompted to create their own username and password.
- Project Management – Harvest has one of the best project features, especially for service-based companies. To create a project, simply add a client, project name, start and end date, and invoice method (task hourly rate, person hourly rate, project hourly rate, or do not apply hourly rate). You can create a budget based on total project hours, total project fees, hours per task, hours per person, or fees per task. It’s also possible to request an email notification when a certain percentage of the budget is used (for example, you can be alerted when you’ve reached 80% of the budget, so you can be sure not to go over budget).
- Time Tracking – Harvest makes it easy for employees to clock time for the week. Hours can be entered manually, or you can even utilize Harvest’s nifty tracking button.
- Expense Tracking – There is a basic expense tracking feature where employees can add expenses pertaining to their projects. Expenses are divided into Entertainment, Lodging, Meals, Mileage, Other, and Transportation. They can attach pictures of receipts and specify whether or not the expense is billable. The feature is incredibly basic compared to most accounting programs; it is suitable for maintaining accurate projects but should not be taken as an accurate profit and loss report.
- Reports – The four reports include Time, Detailed time, Uninvoiced, and Expense. Reports can be customized by time frame, project, client, staff, and category.
- Job Costing – Basic job costing reports and budget features allow you to see the profitability of specific projects. If you don’t know what job costing is or if you need it, check out this insightful guide.
- Multi-Currency – Harvest supports 185 different currencies. You can select a currency while invoicing, or assign a default currency preference to each client.
- Sales Tax – You can have two different taxes on Harvest, but as with invoice products, Harvest doesn’t save sales taxes.
- Importing/Exporting – With the paid plan, you can import timesheets, expenses, and employees via .csv. (It’s also possible to import nearly everything from FreshBooks if that’s applicable to your situation.) You can export time data via .csv, employee data via .csv and .xsl, and reports via .csv, .xsl, and google drive.
- API – There is API available for developers.
Customer Service and Support
Harvest has some of the best customer support I have ever seen. Customer service is available from 9:00-6:00 EST. During these hours, emails and support forms receive responses within an hour, and often within a few minutes. Responses are thorough and always address the question without sounding generic. It was an absolute pleasure working with the Harvest support team. I highly recommend emailing them with any questions you might have. There are a few other resources worth checking out as well:
- Email – Contact support at email@example.com.
- Support Form – You can also reach support here. During business hours, Harvest guarantees a reply within the hour.
- Help Center – Harvest has a nice Help Center with a good number of articles divided into categories for easy searching (or you can just opt for the search bar). This resource also includes an FAQ section.
- Webinars – You can register for a Harvest webinar held every Wednesday, or you can watch a shortened, prerecorded Getting Started Webinar.
- Extra Resources – Harvest provides a few extra resources, including a free invoice template, free timesheet template, and several user guides. The guides include the topics Rallying Your Team for Time Tracking and Time Tracking for Project Managers.
- Blog – Harvest also has a company blog, which features new content usually once a month. Most posts regard company updates and a few customer stories.
- YouTube – The company has a YouTube channel, but it is not very developed yet.
- Social Media – Harvest is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. The company is not incredibly active of any of these sites, and I didn’t see any customers trying to reach customer support here. These platforms are good sources to see recent updates. Twitter is probably the most active of the four.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
Harvest reviews are generally positive. However, there are few common, recurring complaints:
- No Accounting – In addition to lacking a few import features, like fixed rates and limited sales tax, Harvest does virtually nothing in the realm of accounting. This means that Harvest is out of the running as a full business solution. It is still a great invoicing and time tracking tool, but there is no way to track your business profitability or run accounting reports.
- Difficult to Navigate – Some users found the software difficult to navigate, particularly when first starting out.
- Glitches – Several customers reported glitches with the software’s timer.
- Too Expensive – Several users complained that the software is not scalable in terms of features or price. Another user said the paid plan is worth the price, but the free plan isn’t worth it compared to other free options.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
Harvest is generally well-liked by users. The software receives 4.2/5 stars on GetApp, 4.3/5 stars on G2Crowd, and 4/5 stars for its Android app. There are also several customer reviews on the Harvest site. Here are a few of the most common things people like about Harvest:
- Time Tracking – Users love the time tracking solution. One customer said it well when he wrote, “The truth is, while everyone wants to track time, nobody wants to spend time tracking.” Harvest offers an easy to use, quick solution.
- Project Management – Customers needing project management features found Harvest easy to use and incredibly helpful in managing their various jobs.
- Great Mobile App – Across the board, the mobile apps receive high ratings. Users like that they are easy to use and are constantly being improved.
- Easy to Use – Several users praised Harvest for being easy to use.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Harvest offers nearly 100 integrations, including several that were created specifically by Harvest for Harvest. The following are a few of our favorites, though there were so many great ones that it was incredibly hard for me to narrow this list down. Good job, Harvest.
Note: Integrations are only available with the paid Harvest plan.
Harvest Built Apps
- Harvest Forecast – A team management and scheduling tool with in-software communication.
- Harvest for Chrome – Desktop application for Google Chrome.
- Harvest for Safari – Desktop application for Apple Safari.
- Harvest for Mac – Desktop application for Mac.
- Paypal – Accept online payments and enable electronic payment of invoices. Read our review here.
- Stripe – Payment platform for both web and mobile payment methods. Read our full review here.
- Basecamp – A team management and communication platform. Read our full review here.
- Right Signature – Make invoices official. Seal them with an online customer signature.
- Nicereply – A survey tool that collects customer feedback.
- Salesforce – A CRM and marketing solution complete with customer service options for your small business.
- Bidsketch – A time-saving proposal solution.
- Zapier – Connects Harvest to over 750 other apps and add-ons.
Harvest uses SSL encryption, firewalls, and redundancy to protect customer data. Data is stored in multiple facilities and is backed up multiple times a day. The data center security is tested biweekly and backups are stored for 180 days (so be sure to create your own, personal backups before that time period is up). Harvest also boasts an impressive 99.9% uptime. Any outages or software issues are posted and updated in real-time at HarvestStatus.com.
Harvest has incredibly strong project management features. Time tracking, expense tracking, and user permissions are also a nice touch. For companies looking for service-based invoicing, Harvest is the way to go. If you are looking for typical product-based invoicing or any sort of true accounting features, this is probably not the software for you.
As much as I want to really like Harvest, there are several key issues that keep me from rating the software more favorably. While Harvest is great for its specific audience, it fails users needing product-based invoicing. There is no way to save products or sales taxes. There are also none of the accounting features necessary to run a small business. The lack of accounting capabilities, plus the expensive monthly rate for multiple users, prevents this software from being a scalable option for most businesses.
But for businesses reliant on service-based invoicing and projects, Harvest is unbeatable. The audience-specific software may alienate the needs of some small businesses, but Harvest’s focus is also its strength. To see if your company can reap the benefits from Harvest, give the 30-day free trial a try.