Catalyst How-To’s#

Time Tracking Overview#

At Catalyst, we use Harvest for time tracking. We’ll add each member and contractor into our Harvest account - each new person will need to complete the login setup with their credentials. Harvest has a slew of integrations to make it easy for you to start time tracking in real time in whatever ways work best for you. We highly recommend doing real-time tracking. Our time entries go directly into invoicing clients and payroll, so we try our darndest to get it right the first time.

Once you get signed into Harvest for the first time, go through their welcome/tutorials if you want to get a good sense of the mechanics.

When you start a new time entry there are three pieces of information you’ll need to provide in addition to the time: the Project name, the type of Task, and a brief Note describing what you did.

How to Bill Recurring Meetings#


Harvest Project

Harvest Task


PUDL Huddle

PUDL Huddle

Weekly Check-in

PUDL Huddle

PUDL Huddle

Sprint Review / Planning

Project Management


3 and 6-month check-in

Onboarding [NAME]

Check-in call

Financial Check-in


Financial Reporting

Biz Dev Check-in

Business Development

Project Management

Board Meeting


Board Meeting

Choosing Projects#

Projects are grouped by the particular client, grant, or internal work they pertain to. Headers such as RMI, Sloan, or Internal, will precede a list of related projects you can choose from in a drop down menu. Whenever we take on new projects we add them to Harvest.

We don’t automatically assign everyone to every project, so if there is a project that you expect to be there, just ask! Especially in the early days, don’t hesitate to ask questions about what should be billed to which project. For example, if you are providing feedback or reviewing code from a project you’re not directly involved with, you might have to ask to be assigned to that project to bill that chunk of time accordingly.

Hourly budgets are set at quarterly planning, and we try to stay within them. If a project is likely to exceed its hourly budget bring it up at your next team meeting, so we can identify how to reallocate hours to stay within our overall budget.

How to Bill Internal Projects#

Categorizing hours worked on internal projects can be a little harder than client or grant work. For example, how might you charge the hour you spent researching grant opportunities? Here’s a description of the internal project options and how to decide between them:

  • Advisory Committee: This is reserved for the planning, agenda writing, and hosting of the quarterly advisory committee meeting.

  • Admin: This includes running payroll, financial reporting, invoicing clients, doing grant paperwork, and taxes.

  • Business Development: This is for general marketing/communications work, website additions, and work to make new relationships with folks that could be potential clients or collaborators.

  • Community Development: Contributor support, outreach to users, PUDL office hours, blog posts and other non bizdev outreach.

  • Governance: This is for special member meetings and board calls.

  • Grant Development: Any grant research, grant funder and collaborator outreach, and grant writing work.

  • Internal Management: Development of internal policies and processes, annual feedback, and quarterly planning.

  • New Cat Member Search: Any work related to finding new coop members/contractors. This includes all outreach, job descriptions, interviews, applicant review.

  • Onboarding [NAME]: We specific onboarding projects for each new teammate. These are for both the new teammate and the existing members to bill for helping a specific newbie get up and running, and conducting 3 and 6 month check-ins. New members should bill to the onboarding category that includes their name.

  • Project Management: When paired with the “sprint management” task, this project is used for our bi-weekly sprint planning and sprint recap meetings. Otherwise, it is used for other efforts such as discussing our use of GitHub or other project management tools.

  • PUDL Huddle: Get it?! it rhymes. This is for our standup calls.

Choosing Tasks#

Once you’ve selected a project, you must also specify the type of task using the Task field. Following quarterly planning, each key project is created as a task in harvest (e.g., “Plan retreat”, “Integrate 2024 data”). Every task has an associated time budget. As much as possible, work should conform to one of the tasks identified at quarterly planning. An additional “Misc (Not in Seasonal Goals)” task is available to track other work as needed.

Notes about Notes#

The Notes field is used to populate work descriptions that are reviewed internally and, for external projects, will appear on customer invoices. Because these Notes may show up on customer’s invoices, it’s important that they follow uniform conventions and are easy to understand. Notes should describe specific actions. These Notes should:

  • Use active verbs in the present tense (e.g. “Review depreciation study” rather than “depreciation work”). Use imperatives rather than gerunds (e.g. “Create function for FERC data” rather than “Creating function for FERC data”).

    • A good rule of thumb after you’ve written your note is to ask yourself, “Does this note contain a verb?”

  • Separate different but related activities with a semicolon (e.g. “Review depreciation study; summarize findings”).

  • Be detailed and avoid lingo, particularly for client-facing projects, so that the reader can understand what took place.

  • Do not end notes with a period.

General Rules for Tracking Time#

  • As much as possible, separate time entries should be used for separate activities. It’s helpful for us to know how much time we are spending doing research, for example, as opposed to software development, for a given client. If a client has questions or concerns about time entries, it is helpful to have more granular time entries rather than less granular time entries.

  • Time entries should not include long breaks or meals (e.g. if you are working on something and take a break for lunch, end the time entry and add a note). It’s OK to go to the bathroom! In fact, stay hydrated and drink some more water right now.

  • Time entries are retroactively editable until they are processed and locked at the end of the month. If you need to make changes after this point, contact our Admin team.

Tracking PTO#

You can find out how much PTO you have accrued by logging in to your gusto account and clicking on the “Time Off” menu option. If you want to use your PTO, email Ben and let him know the specifics. Make sure to contact him about applying PTO in or before the month you want to receive it.

Insights from Catalyst Time#

Harvest has nice dashboards for projects that we use to understand how specific projects are progressing and reports show a broader overall picture.

We have two main places where we ingest harvest hours. This spreadsheet is where we have nightly pulls of the harvest data living. We do quarterly time budgeting and tracking here.

The Project Task Goals vs Used dashboard shows task budgets and task hours used to date, and is updated nightly.