Harvest Solo ($12 per month) is an easy-to-use mobile app that focuses on expense and time management. Though Harvest Solo leans on its browser-based counterpart for features more than the other similar apps I've tested, the iPhone version is a decent—if flawed—tool for freelancers and independent contractors who must maintain accurate records of hours spent on specific projects and the associated expenses they incur. It's been around long enough to have dozens of integrated add-ons that can extend its usefulness. For example, you can share data with accounting, project management, CRM, and productivity applications. Unfortunately, there's no support for comprehensive tracking of income and expenses (the app doesn't connect to bank accounts), so there's no Schedule C preparation and estimated tax calculation. You should check out GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials, our Editors' Choice for freelancer-friendly bookkeeping iPhone apps, for the complete experience.
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Multiple Subscription Levels
There are four versions of Harvest Solo, all of which are eligible for a 30-day free trial (thankfully, no credit card is required). Besides Solo (reviewed here), there's Free, which limits the number of clients and projects, but doesn't support add-ons. Basic ($49 per month for 5 users) and Business (starting at $99 per month for 10 users) adds team access and timesheet approval. All but the Free version boast unlimited clients, projects, invoices, data import and export, and access to add-ons.
Some Browser-Based Setup
There are two ways to start using Harvest Solo. You can add Projects, Clients, Categories, and Tasks as you go along, or you can enter all of the options in those lists before you start creating time and expense records. You can always add more later, but if you've been in business for a while and have a lot of data to enter, you might want to get that out of the way first.
Some of Harvest Solo's tools, like its category designations, must be set up using a Web browser on a desktop PC or laptop. It's easier to type on a PC keyboard than the iPhone's, so you might as well launch the browser-based Harvest Solo first. Here's how you get started: You sign in, and then click the Manage icon in the vertical toolbar at the top of the screen. There are sub-tabs for each set of options you need to create (Clients, and so on). You'd then click Expense Categories, for example, and then +New Category to start adding your entries.
It's important, too, that you verify the lengthy list of options on the Account Settings page. Harvest Solo has more flexibility here than any similar app that I've reviewed. You can change things like time zone, date and time formats, and currency/number formats, and turn site modules on or off. This page is also where you'll start working with integrated add-ons and import (timesheets, expenses, etc.) and export (time and invoices) data.
Entering Time and Expenses
Sadly, Harvest Solo doesn't really have a central dashboard, as its competitors do. The app opens to the Time screen, which is represented by the first icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. The days of the current week are displayed at the top. You can change the date and week by clicking and scrolling until the correct one is highlighted. When you click Add New Entry, the Choose Project screen opens. Click the plus (+) sign to create one or select from your list. Then do the same on the Choose Task screen that opens. You can't create a timed event without assigning it to both.
This is fine if all of your time and expenses are tied to clients and projects. No app in this group of reviewed products offers such categorization. If time and expenses aren't tied to clients and projects, then Harvest Solo wouldn't be the best option for you.
When the New Time Entry screen opens, you can enter notes and the entry's duration. If you leave it blank, the app's built-in timer starts. The timer is designed for people who need to track their work for billing purposes. I forgot to turn it off when I was testing, and I received an email from Harvest Solo several hours later reminding me that I still had a timer running, and asking if I wanted to deactivate it. None of the other expense apps that I reviewed included this useful billing feature.
Harvest Solo uses a similar process for recording expenses. Click Add New Expense, select a Project and Category, add a dollar amount, and snap a photo of the receipt if you'd like. The app doesn't pull your information out of the receipt and enter it in the correct fields like IQBoxy Prime, but there's a visual record. You can also toggle the Billable Expense button off and on—an unusual feature in this group of apps.
These are not the Schedule C categories you'll find in Xero TaxTouch. Unlike QuickBooks Self-Employed, Harvest Solo is not designed to help you prepare for income taxes or calculate quarterly estimated taxes.
Working with Invoices and Reports
You can't create invoices on the Harvest Solo app like you can in GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials, but you can view the ones you've created on the website. You can also email invoices, record payments (Stripe or PayPal), and view each form's history. The site's invoicing capabilities are actually quite good, and the finished forms display well on the iPhone's screen. You have a good amount of control over their content, and you can set them up to recur at regular intervals. Tracked time and expenses can flow directly into invoices, or you can enter your own items.
You'll have to go to the website, too, to see Harvest Solo's activity reports, and to set up integration with one of a few dozen add-ons, including QuickBooks Online and Xero, Teamwork and Harvest Forecast, Freshdesk and Zendesk, Google Apps and Salesforce. This exceptional extensibility could make Harvest Solo a small cog in a very big wheel. Time and expenses that you enter into the app might end up as an element of many other related solutions.
As a standalone app for freelancers and contractors who need to track income and expenses—and maybe get some help with quarterly and annual estimated income taxes—Harvest Solo isn't as useful as GoDaddy Bookkeeping, Xero TaxTouch, or QuickBooks Self-Employed. Not everyone records time and expenses by the client and project, nor would they necessarily need customizable invoices and estimate creation. That said, Harvest Solo app is a decent tool for the multi-employee company that uses the services of independent workers and wants to build its own productivity solution from a variety of cloud-based applications.