Follow the directions in this article, to handle a multi-deliverable retainer scenario. In this example, we will always invoice the client the same amount each month, but we will have different deliverables requested of us over any month, that will all fall under that retainer. We may have some deliverable that begin and end within a calendar month, and others that may run over a single calendar month.
Staff will track their time, so that we can gauge the health of this retainer month-to-month. We will see this data through the Project Financials, and the use of date ranges.
Create a Project
Begin by creating a new Project. Fields marked in blue are required:
- Give the project an appropriate name - something that identifies it as a retainer. You will also need to enter a Project Code. The Code can be up to 16 characters and you may want to make life easier by implementing a naming convention - ie. Company Initials + Year. The Code will appear on screens or list views where there is not enough space to show the full Project Name.
- Enter the budget - in this example, $120K for the $10K/ month for 12 months that the client has agreed to.
- Choose the Project Type. You can create/ change the content of this drop down menu via Admin > List Maintenance.
Click Submit when ready.
You will land on the Basic Info tab of the new Project. Choose the Add New button and select Estimate to create the first Estimate/ Job this retainer. This will be the Job from which you will create your Invoice each month - what we sometimes call the Billing Job.
Create a Billing Job
- Give the Estimate a name so that it is easily identified as the Billing Job should you need to search for it later. This name will carry through to the Invoice, so keep that in mind as well.
- Enter the Delivery Date to represent the end of this retainer term.
- Use the Category, or Work Type field to also mark this work as retainer related.
- You will need to pick at least one Service. This is not a job to which you will track any time, and you can choose to not show the service line on the invoice printout, so don't worry too much about which one you pick. Alternately, pick or create something neutral like Account Service, or Professional Fees.
Click Submit when ready.
Note that the content in the Estimate Type, Category and Work Type menus is controlled via Admin > System Set Up > List Maintenance. The fields of Work Type, Client Lead and Lead Creative are optional to show on the Estimate. Control if they show or do not show via Admin > System Set Up > System Preferences, and the Track tab. Services can also be edited or created under Admin > Service & Expense Management.
You will land on the Services tab of the newly created Estimate. Enter both the approximate number of hours per you expect to spend per month on this retainer and the monthly value of the retainer. Use the Override field to get the dollar value to match what you've agreed to with the client. It is important to include hours, so that you have a value to compare to, as staff track time.
Click Save when ready.
Add a Revenue Schedule
We recommend you now add a Revenue Schedule. Click Auto Revenue Forecast. Then move to the Revenue Schedule tab.
Use the Add Revenue Schedule Line button, to add a month/date for the life of the retainer.
Choose the date within each month you expect to be paid by the client. Enter 10K per month. The data here will feed into forecasting reports you or another member of your team may wish to use. Click Submit when ready.
Move to the Basic Info tab and mark the Estimate as Approved. This a good practice to follow, as any changes made to this Estimate will be tracked to the Revisions tab. Click Continue.
Click Add Job to convert the Estimate into active work that you will be able to Invoice from.
You will land on the Summary tab of the newly created Job. The Job will default to an Open status. It is from this page that you will generate your monthly Invoice - we'll look at that further into this article.
Add Estimates/ Jobs as Requested
Back at the Project level, we can see our one Billing Job through which we'll invoice each month. As the client requests work that falls within the scope of the retainer, we will add those Estimates/ Jobs (and Briefs & Schedules as needed) to this Project. We will track time to those Jobs, but will will Invoice from the Billing Job. Through the Project, we'll be able to easily compare values, and see if we are profitable with this retainer month over month.
Let's put through an example - the client has reached out and needs some party invitations created for an upcoming event. From the Project page, choose the Add New button, and select Estimate.
Complete as much as you can about this new work request. Required fields are marked in blue.
- Give the Estimate a clear and suitable name, and Estimate Type.
- Enter the date this deliverable is due.
- Select the appropriate Services/ Expenses needed to complete the work.
Click Submit when ready.
Save the Estimate, move it to an Approved status, and turn it into a Job using the Add Job button. We have left the Estimate values blank intentionally - adding hours here would impact the data at the Project level. To estimate completion times for your team for this deliverable, please see the next step.
Should you need to/ want to provide your team with estimated completion times to do their work, you have a couple of options. From the Job page, and the Add New button:
So long as the Job exists and is in an Open/ Active Status, staff can track time - a Task or Schedule are not needed for time tracking to take place.
On the Classic Dashboard, the Job will show on the Job tile. Clicking the time tracker icon, with partially populate the Timesheet window. Staff need only add the amount of time worked, select the Service they worked on, and Submit the time.
Continue to add work to the project in this fashion, and close jobs as they complete. Only the Billing Job will remain constant. Over time, as Jobs are added and closed out, and as staff track their time, the Project will start to fill out.
Invoice Routine Each Month
When it is time to Invoice for the month, find your Billing Job. Choose the Add New button and pick Add Invoice.
You will land on the Add Invoice page. As you will be using this Job to invoice each month for the life of the retainer, choose the Invoice Type of Interim. Choosing Final will close the Job. Enter the appropriate Invoice Date and choose to Calculate from Estimated. Click Add Invoice when ready.
Because we set up our Billing Job so nicely, with the $10K value, the Invoice is now populated with the correct amount for the month. Save the invoice, and then Print/ send to the client for payment. If your Invoicing process also involves Posting and Exporting the Invoice, you can also do that from the top right.
Repeat these steps each month.
Assessing the Health of the Retainer
On the Project Details page, you have the ability to assess the health of the retainer at any time.
- On the Basic Info tab you can see a high level view of the entire budget for the year, and how you are tracking thus far. By the end of the Retainer term, the Invoice Total and Budget should match, and ideally your Actual Totals are below those amounts.
- On the Job Financials tab, use the Filter by Date feature to narrow down the Actual values displayed in the table to a certain date range.
- Monitor the difference between your actual and invoiced values.
We hope you'll find this to be a straightforward method by which you can handle this kind of retainer work. We welcome your follow up questions or concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org