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The Harpoon Blog

New Feature: Advanced Project Budgeting

by Andy Johnson in News & Updates

You might already be familiar with Harpoon’s existing ability to budget hours for your projects. It’s been a great way to ensure your team doesn’t spend more time on your projects than originally planned. With the recently released Harpoon 3 we’ve taken project budgeting to the next level!

An important part of budgeting is trying to predict how much of your time and resources you can afford to spend on a project when compared to the (actual or planned) revenue generated from the project. In Harpoon 3 it’s the predictive aspect of budgeting that we’ve worked hard to implement.

Project Types - First we’ve added the ability to designate a project “type” when creating a new project, which includes Hourly, Fixed Fee, and Non-Billable types. Designating a project type allows Harpoon to create project budgets that specifically cater to the way you plan to bill for the project.

Hourly Budget - As you might have guessed, when selecting a project type of “Hourly” Harpoon will focus on tracking an hourly budget for the project, including the ability to automatically “reset” your budget on a daily, weekly, or monthly interval (handy for retainers or other types of ongoing projects). You can then easily add your team’s recorded hours to an invoice(s) for the project and Harpoon will automatically update the status of those hours from “Unbilled” to “Billed” for convenient record keeping. All the while it’s easy to see at a glance how far under (or over) budget you happen to be.

Fixed Fee Budget - When the project type is set to “Fixed Fee” Harpoon makes available a new Fixed Fee Budget. With this type of budget you start the project by entering the amount of money you plan to bill for the project. Harpoon will then start tracking the total amount actually invoiced for the project against the fixed fee amount you’ve set up in your budget. When creating invoices for the project Harpoon will even show you on the invoice how much money is left in the project's fixed fee budget so you don’t accidentally over bill the client. Not only that, but based on your fixed fee budget (combined with other metrics like your average hourly rate, team member cost rates, etc.) Harpoon will automatically generate an appropriate hours budget for your fixed fee project to ensure your labor costs stay in line with the amount you plan to bill. This also works great for tracking time against a fixed fee retainer balance. And yes, the automatic daily, weekly, and monthly “reset” feature is available for fixed fee budgets too!

Project Budget Calculator - Wouldn't it be great to predict a project's value, cost, and profit margin before it even begins? Enter Harpoon’s new Project Budget Calculator. When creating your project's budget you can access the Project Budget Calculator by clicking the "show details" link:

First, the calculator will tell you how much you can plan to bill for the project based on the number of hours you’ve budgeted (for Hourly projects), or how many hours you can afford to spend on the project based on your budgeted fixed fee amount (for Fixed Fee projects).

Next the calculator will predict your labor costs for the project so you have an idea of the impact the project will have on your pocket book.

And finally the calculator predicts the project's overall profit and margin assuming you stick to your budget.

This is all information provided by the calculator at the start of the project before you’ve even begun the work! And you can even experiment with your Hourly and Fixed Fee budgets (and other metrics like hourly rates and cost rates) and see the calculator update in real-time! This is a powerful way to predict profitability at the start of a project vs. scrambling to adjust your project budget later when many times it's too late.

Budget Resets - If you're working on a retainer (or another type of repeating project) you'll appreciate the ability to "reset" your project budget on a repeating daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This works for both Hourly and Fixed Fee projects. For example, if you've agreed to provide your client 30 hours of work each month, you can set an Hours Budget of 30 hours and then have the budget automatically "reset" itself each month. Which means at the start of each month Harpoon will automatically start tracking your recorded time against a fresh set of 30 hours. This also works for Fixed Fee projects with tracking the amount you've billed your client against a repeating fixed fee budget amount.

Budget Alerts - Juggling multiple projects and team members can make it challenging to keep up with the status of your project budgets. That's why for both Fixed Fee and Hourly projects Harpoon will send you alerts (via Slack and email) warning you when a project is close to maxing out its budget, and again if/when it goes over budget. (Just make sure the budget alerts are turned on in your Emails & Notifications Settings.) The days of being caught off guard with project budgets are over!

If you'd like to explore these project budgeting features for yourself give Harpoon a try! We hope these advanced budgeting tools help your team stay on track to managing profitable projects!

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