Tracking Retainer Projects

How to set up and track your retainer projects in 10,000ft.

Desktop with plant and computer and calendar on the wall

We often hear the question, "How do I manage retainer projects in 10,000ft?" Retainer projects are typically long projects that have a fixed time or fee budget. There might be a variety of work that is done throughout the life of the retainer, but everything rolls up to a single budget. In this post, we'll explain how to set up your retainer projects in 10,000ft and how to quickly pull reports that show monthly and total progress updates.

Let's look at setting up retainer projects with a single budget (we'll look at retainers with monthly budgets in just a bit). 

The first step is to create a new project with a start and end date that spans the length of retainer contract, typically 12 months. Set either a time or fee budget (or both) based on the contract you have with your client.

For example, if the agreement allows for up to 2,000 hours of work, your time budget should be 2,000 hours. If you know that your budget for the year is $200,000 and you don't want to exceed that in billable time, you should set the project fee budget to $200,000.

retainer project fee budget

Next, add specific team members to the project with estimated assignments. When determining their allocation, you should consider each team member's bill rate (are they a junior or senior level team member?) and how much time will they devote to the project (the more hours someone devotes to the project, the more budget you will burn through).

retainer project planning 10,000ft

The status bar will update as each team member is added, so you can see how much of your budget is being used as you add more team members. When your team tracks hours against this project, you will see the time accrue against your budget.

Tracking Retainer Projects With Monthly Budgets

If you want to track monthly budgets for a single retainer contract, you can do this as described above, but you will create a month long phase for each month of work.

retainer project tracking by month

You can then assign a monthly budget to each phase equal to what your client expects to pay you each month. For example, if you were setting up a year-long retainer contract that was equal to $240,000, you would give each phase a fee budget of $20,000.

As team members track their time against the retainer, they should report their hours to the phase that corresponds with the month they are in. Doing this will allow you to review the status of each phase using the status drop down on the Project page, and will also allow you to pull budget reports grouped by phase to show how your retainer agreement is progressing month over month.

Using categories is a great way to add an additional level of granularity to your reports, especially for retainer projects. Since each phase of a retainer project in 10,000ft is set to the months of the year, categories such as "Client Meeting," "Campaign Management," or "Bug Fixing" help you see where your time is going in each each month and make adjustments if needed.

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