A retainer can be added from the general navigation, or when viewing a company, from the taskbar, select Add, then choose New Retainer.
There are 2 aspects to setting up a retainer:
- Title - a brief description of the retainer, E.g. "Monthly Website Maintenance"
- Manager - the staff member responsible for this retainer
- Contact - the key client contact for this retainer
- Billable Contact - default contact if invoicing this retainer
- Type - the retainer type is a very important setting. Your administrator can add and configure types, and depending on the type chosen, the status progressions available and default period template details (see below) will vary.
- Status progression - which status should this retainer move to as it is created.
- Commence - when does the retainer start. When you set-up your first period, it will default from this date.
- Expiry - when does the retainer expire (or end). This field is optional. E.g. you may have an open-ended support agreement.
- Auto-renew period - this setting tells the retainer to automatically create a new period (0) days before the current period expires. This is ideal if you are providing recurring services to your clients and need to give them several days notice about the next billing/service period.
- Send Invoice via - If you are using the Auto-renew feature, you can instruct AffinityLive to automatically create an invoice as well, and whether the invoices should be not sent (None), sent via Email to the contact or to your accounts staff member for posting.
Retainer Period (Period Template)
A period itself is where work is tracked (or allocated). E.g. if you want to manage an agreement with a client to provide $1000 worth of work for them each month, you'll want to configure your period template so that AffinityLive can quickly build these periods for you.
Note that if the specifications of a retainer change over time, rather than create a new retainer, you could just update the period template so that future periods are created correctly.
The fields shown on your period template will default based on the Type selected previously in the Retainer details. Additionally, some fields will show/hide as you change some of the settings - such as the Billing Type and Allowance.
- Period Duration: Fixed or Unlimited
- a fixed period is probably the more common arrangement. E.g. a period may be fixed at 6 weeks, or 1 month, or 3 months. Once that time has elapsed, a new period is typically created (along with a new invoice, and possible some new tasks, etc.)
- an unlimited period has no expiry, though you may want to close it after the allowance has been exceeded and then create a fresh period.
- Length per Period: As outlined above, a fixed period can run for as little as 1 week, or for as long as 10 years! These fields allow you to configure the default period length.
- Billing Type: Pre-paid or Post-Paid
- Pre-paid is probably the more common arrangement. E.g. you may have a negotiated with a client that if they pay $2500 up-front per quarter for support, you will provide up to $3000 worth of support. In this case, it makes sense to invoice up-front (effectively requiring them to pre-pay) for each period (quarter).
- So a Pre-paid budget has a fixed price, and optionally, an allowance which is tracked in either value ($$) or hours.
- A Post-paid type is where you will charge the client at the end of the period for the value used. This is handy when a client won't agree to a fixed fee each period, but will agree to a billable rate for all work they send you over a period.
- Price (only applicable to Pre-paid) - If you invoice for the period, this will become a line item known as the "Period fee"
- Pre-paid Allowance (and Value): Unlimited hours, Fixed hours, or Fixed value
- Unlimited hours is where you don't care how much time/work is allocated to the period - either because you're not tracking time against the period, or you're being very generous with your client!
- Fixed hours is where you want to track the usage of the period based on the hours logged. When selected, you must also specify the allowed hours.
- Fixed value is where you want to track the usage of the period based on the value of work logged. The value depends on the rate used for work that is allocated to the period. However, you can specify whether all work should use a specific rate (Use Retainer Rate) or where work should keep the rate based on where it came from (an issue, project, etc.). When selected you must also specify the allowed amount.
- Rates - Override and Fallback
- Override rate lets you configure whether to override the rate that may be already assigned to work being allocated to the period (I.e. if work came from an issue or project it may already have a rate). Select "Use Retainer Rate" to override any previously assigned rates.
- Fallback rate will act as the retainer rate as well as the fallback when you are not overring the object rate. Note there is a field on the right of the Fallback Rate which allows you to specify a new rate value - which is handy if the actual hourly rate you want isn't in the picklist.
- Excess Rate
- depending on the Billing and Allowance type you have selected, you may be able to select the Excess Rate that should be applied if more work is allocated to the period than what is allowed.
- Rollover: Yes or No
- stipulates whether an expiring period should roll unused allowance into the next period
This section allows you to define some tasks that will be created automatically each time a period is added to the retainer. There may be some default tasks already there based on the retainer type chosen. You can easily edit or remove those tasks from the list.
Click Add Template tasks to set one up. For example, every period the client may send you new website banner graphics which require updating on their live website. To ensure your staff are ready for this, you can add this as a templated task:
- Title - enter a brief description of the task
- Assignee - which staff/user is responsible
- Start - the date that work should commence on this task. The options for setting the start date are very flexible.
- Due - the date that all work on the task should be completed. The options for setting the due date are also very flexible.
In the image above, the task is configured to start 5 days after the period commences, and will be due 5 days after the task starts.
- Estimated Time - Approximation of time required to complete the task.
Template Line Items
This section allows you to define some additional line items (fees/charges/products/costs) that will be prepared automatically each time a period is set up. There may be some default line items already there based on the retainer type chosen. You can easily edit or remove those from the list.
Click Add Template Line Item to set one up. For example, every period you may want to invoice the client for website hosting costs. By templating this cost you can be sure that it will flow through to the invoice as a separate line item (if you choose to invoice for the period).
- Description - this will become the line item description
- Quantity - how many units of this item does the client require
- Amount per Item - cost for a single quantity
- Account Ledger - Also known as account code, this ensure the line items flow into your accounting system correctly.
- Tax - this will usually default based on the acount code selected previously, but you can adjust the tax rate if necessary.
Finally, click Create Retainer to finish setting up your new client retainer!