The Harpoon Blog

New Feature: Advanced Revenue Forecasting

by Andy Johnson in News & Updates

Harpoon’s Schedule is one of the most popular screens in the product. It’s here where you can track progress on your business’s yearly revenue goal, and see that goal broken down into smaller, dynamic monthly goals. It’s on the Schedule where you can map out your client projects and see how the revenue collected from those projects is affecting your monthly and yearly goals.

But at its core the Schedule is designed to be a powerful revenue forecasting tool, enabling you to look ahead in the calendar, predicting the amount of revenue you’re expecting to receive from your projects. For the recent release of Harpoon 3 we’ve made expected revenue tracking even more powerful.

Unbilled Hours - This is a new source of expected revenue we’ve introduced in Harpoon 3. Every hours entry your team records in Harpoon 3 has a unique value associated with it. This value is based on custom hourly rates that you have complete control over, whether on a global, client, or project level. This means Harpoon 3 has the ability to calculate how much expected revenue you can plan to receive from all of the unbilled hours across all projects in your account even before you’ve had a chance to bill for those hours! Every day your business’s expected revenue will be automatically updated on your Schedule based on the work your team performed that very day. It works like magic! (And you can turn this feature on/off on a per project basis when editing a project.)

Fixed Fee Budgets - This is another new source of expected revenue we’ve added to Harpoon 3. When creating a Fixed Fee project you’ll enter the fixed amount you plan to bill for the project. This becomes the project’s Fixed Fee Budget. Harpoon uses this Fixed Fee Budget as a source of expected revenue and displays it on your Schedule. And Harpoon is smart enough to properly balance a project’s Fixed Fee Budget with any invoices that are being created for the project. For example, if your Fixed Fee Budget for the project is $1,000 and you create a $500 invoice Harpoon will display a total of $1,000 on your Schedule: $500 for your remaining Fixed Fee Budget, and $500 for the unpaid invoice. This gives you the benefit of including a project’s fixed fee amount in your expected revenue calculations before you’ve even created an invoice for the project, and as you do create invoices Harpoon will automatically keep the project’s expected revenue amount balanced and accurate! (And again, you can turn this feature on/off on a per project basis when editing a project.)

Unpaid Invoices - All of your unpaid invoices continue to be tracked as expected revenue in Harpoon 3. When you create invoices in Harpoon the outstanding balances of each invoice will be calculated as expected revenue for your business with those amounts displayed on your Schedule based on the date of each invoice. As an invoice becomes paid Harpoon will automatically convert those amounts from expected to collected revenue in your account.

Future Recurring Invoices - When you create a recurring invoice template Harpoon will automatically track the future amounts of those invoices and display those amounts as expected revenue on your Schedule based on the dates each future invoice is scheduled to be generated. This turns recurring invoices into a powerful forecasting tool, especially handy for projects like ongoing retainers or other recurring services you provide your clients.

Manual Entries - This allows you to manually enter sources of expected revenue that are outside of the sources Harpoon automatically tracks (i.e. unpaid invoices, future recurring invoices, unbilled hours, and fixed fee budgets). Given the improved automation and new sources of expected revenue added to Harpoon 3 we predict this manual method will be used far less than it was before. But it's still there if you need it.

Expected Revenue Rollover - Previously in Harpoon 2 whatever month on your Schedule an expected revenue amount originally appeared is the month it remained in. In other words if you had expected revenue from an unpaid invoice show up on your Schedule in January then that amount remained in January even if January is now in the past. This has meant in Harpoon 2 you probably had expected revenue scattered all throughout past months of the calendar. This approach had its use cases. But over the last two years we’ve become convinced those use cases are outweighed by the inconvenience of trying to determine how expected revenue from the past affects your current and future revenue goals. So in Harpoon 3 we’ve added a new expected revenue rollover behavior. This means Harpoon will continuously “roll over” any expected revenue from each past month into each new month as time progresses throughout the year.

Value, Cost, & Yield - This isn’t exactly a Schedule-specific feature, but it does fall under the topic of forecasting. Every hours entry your team records in Harpoon 3 now includes a value, cost, and yield calculation. Want to know the internal cost of having that contractor work on those two projects last month? Or want to see the value of all unbilled hours for client XYZ across all their completed projects? Or maybe you want to see the total cost for all the hours your team worked on Non-Billable projects last quarter? The possibilities are endless. No other product we’ve seen provides the depth of financial insight into your team’s recorded hours as Harpoon 3 does!

Revenue Forecast Widget - This is a widget on your Dashboard which displays a forecast of your predicted revenue this year. This forecast is a bit different than the expected revenue numbers on your Schedule in that it's a unique calculation based on your current collected revenue velocity. In other words, based on how much revenue you’ve collected so far this year, Harpoon predicts how much revenue you might receive by the end of the year if you keep up your current velocity. It then compares this forecast to your actual yearly revenue goal.

All of these features combined turn Harpoon into a "crystal ball" for your business’s finances. All you have to do is create projects and bill your clients. Harpoon handles the rest of these features automatically. Give it a try!

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