Reason #4 to invoice with BigTime: Variable rates.

  • Mar 20,2013
Last time we discussed how to save time and effort when billing time comes around by starting the process with one of the invoicing templates that come built into BigTime. These templates — three dozen of them, all of which can be edited to your liking — can help you automate this daunting monthly task. Now we’d like to go into a somewhat more arcane realm of invoicing: variable billing rates. If you’ve created an invoice before, you already know how to set up billing rates. Open up the project’s dashboard and browse to the Contract > Billing Rates screen. Here you can set both a “base rate” for the project as well as “custom rates.” This useful feature allows you to assign unique hourly rates based on staff, activity type, or both — for every client project you bill. bigtime invoicing with quickbooks

The ability to set up custom billing rates is one of the most useful features in BigTime.

In BigTime, you can set up an unlimited set of custom rates. Think of these as override rates that can be set up by labor code, staff member, budget item or any combination of the three. What’s more, BigTime also lets you create custom cost rates for a project, likewise by staff or activity type.

Custom rates can be set up using the “custom rates” edit pane in the dashboard’s Contract > Billing Rates page. Just fill in the rate you’d like to add to the project in the blank line at the end of the list.

Let’s take a look at how this can be of help in a real-world application. Let’s say you need to bill out staff member Joe Smith at varying levels because he brings disparate degrees of skills and capabilities to different clients. For one project he may be valued at $125/hr while his work for another client may be billed out higher (or lower). In BigTime, this is a no-brainer. You simply set up a list of hourly rates for Joe (his rate card) that vary by different types of clients or projects. Name them the default “Rate A” or “Rate B” — or better yet, label them something more descriptive, “corporate rate,” for example. This can be done with each staff member for a wide range of scenarios.

To accomplish this you have two choices:

You may edit Joe’s hourly rate in the “Custom Rates” table or you can do it the way we recommend, which is to add (up to five) billing rates for Joe in the “Base Rate” section of the Contract > Billing Rates page. By setting up Joe’s rates this way, you can more easily manage them later in the staff list in the Management > Staff List section

That’s just a taste of what BigTime’s robust variable rates feature can do to help you streamline your billing process. For the moment we won’t go into the numerous other options you have to take advantage of the power of variable billing rates, but one that you’ll probably want to get to know is Activity Rates. In some cases, the person doing work on a project won’t be used to determine the billing rate. Instead, you’ll set up a labor code that assigns a rate to the work type (no matter who’s doing it), and create a rate sheet. BigTime supports this scenario by providing an “Activity Rate” option in the Contract > Billing Rates screen. To learn more about variable rates, go to