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Getting Started - LOts of questions around retainers

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    • RyanM
    • Jan 5th 2013 edited @ 01/05/2013 12:11 pm

    Hi everyone:

    We're considering moving over from TeamWork, which is a great program for task management and time tracking, but it doesn't do a great job and measure agency profitability, etc. So we are running a few projects in parallel and I have a couple of questions:

    1. Retainers
    A good majority of our work is retainer based - a fixed amount of $ for a fixed set of deliverables each month. Ideally, we'd like to know each month whether or not we've gone over in budget for the retainer. If I create a project for each month, I know at the month level whether or not I went over on hours. If i create the project for the duration of the retainer - which is usually 6 months or a year, I could go over on each month and not really have a great understanding of that until too far down the road. Also, tasking the SOW would be difficult for a year at a time I would image. Maybe milestones? My question: Does anyone else use intervals for this type of work? Can you share with me how you're handling it? It's really hindering me from playing with the software and there are a lot of "best practices" info around.

    • Michael
    • Jan 5th 2013 edited @ 01/07/2013 9:13 am

    Intervals can definitely handle retainers. There isn't a way to specify a monthly budget and the overall budget setup in the project profile section is for the life of the project but the budget alert notification can be used to send alerts when certain thresholds are met. This can be used as an early warning indicator that the project budget is being used quicker than expected. When the alert is triggered a new alert can be created for the next budget threshold. Aso, here are a few items on this front that might be worth a look:



    Thanks. One of the challenges of setting up a project for each month of the retainer would be that the number of projects in the system would be huge if you go across 15-20 clients x multiple months. Seems like it would get tough to manage especially around the end of the momth.

    Have you seen people doing one project for the whole retainer and then a milestone for each month? Pro/Cons?

    Thanks guys.


    I would also like to add two links to blog posts, one on using Intervals to track retainer agreements, with some step-by-step instructions on setting one up:
    Tracking Web Design and Development Retainer Agreements Using Intervals

    And a more basic hi level post here:
    How Web Design and Creative Agencies Can Productize Their Services

    To answer your inquiry more specifically... If the retainer is renewed each month, than go ahead and leave it on one project. The pro of doing this is the cash flow will show a cumulative balance or credit, and the entire history of the contract will be on the one project. The con is that the month-to-month credit will roll over to the next month, so if the funds are set to expire each month, you lose that ability.

    In this scenario, I would recommend setting up a project for each monthly retainer for each client. Once the project is over, say one month later, archive the project. This will push it to the background where it will be retained until you need it. And because the project is inactive it will not count toward the monthly allotment of active projects.

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