You know the old adage, “Time is Money”? These words couldn’t be more true for us freelancers who get paid based on the amount of time we spend on a project. Good time tracking and invoicing software is important; it needs to allow for client and project management and invoice generation, and it needs to be mobile. The Time Tracker for Harvest Android app aims to be your best friend when it comes to time tracking by doing just that.
Harvest is a web app that “lets you and your staff track time and send invoices from one integrated application”. Through the online interface, you can create projects, add clients, add expenses, generate invoices, and more. Since this article is for Android.Appstorm, I’m going to focus on the Android app and what it can do — check out Web.AppStorm for a review of Harvest’s online app.
First, you need a Harvest account to get started. I recommend doing this part on the computer because it’s a little easier. You’ll need to know the custom domain you set up (something.harvestapp.com), as well as your username and password. You’ll only have to login once on your Android device.
Harvest is a pretty lightweight app as far as features go (which some may say is a good thing!). You can track time, and track expenses, with the ability to add and edit entries under both.
When tracking time, you simply press the plus icon in the top right of the screen and you’re taken to an Add Entry page. Select the project and press Start to start the timer. Add notes when you’re done. Press Stop and that entry is automatically saved and updated. To edit an entry, simply select one of the entries from the list and make your modifications.
While this is very easy to use, one issue I have is that you can’t add projects from the add entry screen, or anywhere else in the app. In order to start a new project, you need to add it using the web app. This is a big drawback, especially if the user is not in front of a computer.
A simple way around this is to use the default project, named “Internal,” and then add it to a project later. In my opinion, however, you shouldn’t have to do this.
The Expenses tab operates in pretty much the same way. You use the plus icon to add a new expense and then select from a list any of the expenses you want to edit. A really nice feature is that as well as setting the project, category, amount, and notes, you can also upload or take a photo of the receipt. It’s great to have a single place (besides a shoebox) to keep all of your receipts, nicely organized.
Strangely missing from the entry screen is a title, and, even more strangely, a vendor to associate the expense with. As an avid Freshbooks user, I’ve come to expect the ability to add a vendor to my expense tracking, and I feel it makes sense to have a field for it (for my accountant, it’s easier for him to categorize my expenses if he knows the vendors). Adding this to the notes can get too repetitive, especially if you continually buy from the same vendors.
Similarly to the Time Entry screen, you cannot add new projects or categories on the Expense Entry screen.
Again, I recommend adding the expense to the “Internal” project until you get in front of a computer, but again, you shouldn’t have to do this.
Harvest also has a way to look back on previous days, though it’s not really all that intuitive. If you press your device’s Menu button, you can select “Calendar,” which brings up a date selector. While this is a fairly simple solution to date viewing, I would have liked to see an actual calendar with dates that I entered highlighted, similar to how Google’s calendar marks dates when you have appointments; another solution would be a simple swipe left or right to view a different date.
Pending and Settings
Harvest also has two more tabs: Pending and Settings. The Pending tab is simply a list of any entries that haven’t been uploaded yet. I haven’t been in an area with poor connection to test this screen out, but there don’t seem to be any options for it.
The Settings screen has three options to change: your URL for Harvest, your username, and your password. On this screen, I would have liked to see a bit more integration with Harvest’s web app settings, where you can change your account plan, date and number formats, etc.
While Harvest’s current app is a nice start to mobile time tracking, I think it needs more integration to the web app in order for it to be a really worthwhile app. The fact that you can’t create projects from the app itself is a real deal-breaker for me, since I’ll often want to start new projects while I’m out (at a meeting or a coffee shop, for example). The Calendar/Date navigation also needs some work. At the very least, you should be able to swipe the screen to navigate through the dates/expenses. The current way is a bit cumbersome.
I do like the simplicity of adding time entries, and really like the fact that you can add photos of reciepts to your expenses, though I would like to see a little bit more out of the app before I start using it on a regular basis. The web app is really nice — I’d love to see the Android app right up there with it!