Rates and Rate Groups

Creating and using rates, rate groups, the different types of rates and all the available actions with each.

Updated over a week ago

Edition: Business, Enterprise

User-level: Director, System Administrator

This article is designed to explain all the different types of rates and rate groups you will use throughout Synergy.

Create and update the rates for staff charge-outs, supplier and subcontractors, inspections, office expense items, staff cash and travel items. Use variations to apply a special discount for the new year for a rate, or a discount for a selected project.

The rates and rate groups can be accessed by going to Settings > Financial > Rates.


  • Change the rate charge-out value or markup % by adding a variation. Includes entering an effective date (start date) for when the rate change will begin. i.e. One rate value for this year 2022 and another rate value for 2023.

  • Set up the standard rate values for your organisation. Specific rate values can be applied for projects using variations. *This feature is available with the Synergy Business or Enterprise products.*

What is adding or editing rates?

Rates can be used when estimating budgets when entering expenses, displayed on reports, or listed on the project invoice sent out to your clients. Create staff rates to control the charge-out value for the work your staff perform for projects, or set up the markup % or charge-out value for the expense rate types. Cash and travel rate types are used for staff expense reimbursement, office expense items are used to charge time for internal tasks to a project, and supplier/subcontractor expenses are used to on-charge these expenses to a project with a markup value applied.

Rates can be updated to adjust price changes for each quarter or year. Add a standard variation and enter an effective date for when the new charge-out rate or markup % value will be applied to entered transactions. If using the Business or Enterprise Synergy products, then you can also vary the rate by applying discounts/surcharges for selected projects.

Why add or edit rates?

Control the standard set of values that work on project invoices is charged out or marked up to for your clients. Use variations to apply special pricing (discounts or surcharges) to selected projects.

Rate groups

Rate groups in Synergy allow you to categorise your rates and group them together. The Standard rate group is like the master record, all rates that are created will need to exist on this group. This is where the standard costs are calculated from.

From there, you can create other rate groups. Each rate group can have its own selection of rates, and those rates can have their own separate values. Changing the rates on one rate group won't impact other rate groups.

Some common uses of rate groups is to have a new rate group for each financial or calendar year. Or if you have a client that you have negotiated special rates for, you can create a rate group for them which will be used on their projects.

Viewing rate groups

To view the rate groups you have, go to the rates list (Settings > Financial > Rates), and click the rate group dropdown list at the top left. This will show you a list of the rate groups you've created. Click a rate group to select it and view the rates active on it.

Rate types

There are several types of rates in Synergy; Staff, Inspection, Office Expenses, Travel Expenses, Cash Expenses, Supplier, and Subcontractor. Each rate functions differently, and will be used in different parts of Synergy. Below, we will go through each rate and their differences.

Staff rates

Staff rates are assigned to employees for use in timesheet entries, dictating the charge-out value for project stage invoicing. These rates are often pegged to market values during project bids and are ideally grouped by job role rather than individual employees. This approach simplifies rate management, particularly when staff transitions occur within the organisation.

For example, in Synergy, each staff profile is linked to at least one appropriate rate, with the option for multiple rates to reflect varied job functions. Jill Lockhart, for instance, may have rates assigned for both 'architect' and 'senior architect' roles, corresponding to the nature of her work on different projects. By creating the rate using a job role, the rate can be used by many staff members in Synergy.

A staff rate has two values, Standard cost, and Charge value. The standard cost is calculated from the charge value, and the organisation's target profit margin. See this article for more information on standard costs.

The Charge value is what determines the value of the timesheet. It is calculated as Units (hours) x charge value.


  • The rate name will be shown in Synergy lists, and on invoices to your clients.

  • The charge-out value can be altered within the project, or by applying a variation for the project.

  • Each staff record must have at least one staff rate available for use.

Inspection rates

*This feature is available with the Synergy Business or Enterprise products.*

Create an inspection rate to charge the client a flat charge out fee for a site inspection or visit. Multiple types of inspection rates to allow for a different charge out value for CBD / metro visits ($250), country / rural ($400), and interstate ($600) etc. Selected staff members can be approved to use inspection rates within their timesheets. The staff can enter an exact number of hours for the visit, and the client is still charged the flat daily fee for the work.

When creating the rate, define what the internal cost is for completing a site visit, and what the client will be charged for the work. The charge value should include the profit you want to make for the site visit. Work out the cost for completing the visit (i.e. hours by the staff member, mileage etc.) then add the required profit (i.e. 20% target profit) to create your charge-out fee for the inspection rate.

Create a rate for each of the standard inspection rates that you quote on a proposal. The actual charge out rate can be changed in a project to be discounted or surcharged to the client if required.

Inspection rates use a charge value entered by you, with the costs being calculated from that, like with staff rates:

e.g. CBD, metro, country / rural, interstate. Consider having an inspection rate for a full day visit, a 1/2 day visit, or for the different types of work completed in a site visit.


  • When charging an hourly rate for a site visit, create a staff rate for the task instead of inspection rates. Inspection rates are a flat fee rate. This means if the staff member takes 8 hours or 15 hours to complete the task, the client is still only charged the same flat fee.

  • Update the site inspection charge-out value by adding a variation. This lets you set up an effective date for when the rate change will begin, so that existing transactions are not updated by the rate change.

Cash expense

This rate is created to control the staff expense markup percentage for staff cash expenses. This markup % is applied to the cash expense when it is allocated against a project to be on-charged to a client. i.e. the staff member is claiming for a flight which costs $500, and the cash expense markup is 10%. The cash expense transaction will be marked up on the project to $550 ($500 expense plus the $50 markup).

The cost of a cash expense transaction is determined by the value that the staff enters when they enter their expense. The charge value of the expense is calculated as the entered cost x markup percentage.

There can be many different cash expense markup rates in Synergy. Create a different rate for each type of project work you complete. I.e. On some projects you can markup the cash expense by 10%, another is 15%, and on others, you cannot markup the item which means a 0% markup rate is required. (Note: If you do not markup the expense, then you are not making any profit on that item).


  • The rate 'name' is what staff see when entering expenses, and clients can see on hourly rate invoices. Try putting the markup % in the name, so staff know what to use the rate for. e.g. Type 'cash expense 15% markup' as the rate name.

  • Synergy adds a default 'cash expense' markup rate when you create your organisation. Get started by updating this markup to be correct for your organisation.

Travel expense items

Travel expenses are used via time and expenses for fixed cost expenses e.g. mileage reimbursement per KM's / miles, road tolls, per diem or days away from home allowance, daily accommodation allowance etc. Staff enter travel expense rates when they are claiming fixed expenses for reimbursement.

Travel expense item rates allow you to define the original cost of the item and the charge-out value shown on project invoices. The staff enters the distance they're claiming, and the cost and charge value are calculated based on the cost and charge value of the selected rate.

e.g. Mileage has a cost of $0.66 per KM / Mile which is reimbursed to the staff member at this value for work trips. However, when the expense is shown against a project, it has the markup applied to be $1.00 per KM / Mile. Marking up the expense for project work ensures that you make a profit on the item.

Tip: The rate 'name' is what staff see when entering expenses, and clients can see on hourly rate invoices. Make sure you put a clear description so that your internal staff and clients know what the expense relates too.

Office expense

Create a list of fixed cost items that you produce in your office for projects. These items can be used to on-charge the cost of this internal task to your client on a project invoice. e.g. Printing black & white, printing colour, photocopying, binding, presentation kits, or survey equipment hire per day rate. Try creating a different office expense item rate for each paper size or document type that your office will print, photocopy or bind. e.g. letter, A3, A4, B1, A0 etc.

When entering Office expenses, the staff will enter a quantity of units. This is multiplied by the cost and charge value of the rate to determine the cost and charge of the expense.

Tip: If the item is purchased through an external third party, try using supplier expense items instead.


Supplier rates ensure that bills automatically have a markup applied when they are disbursed to a project. Supplier expenses are project-related costs like airfares, printing, accommodation, equipment hire, audit reports, inspections, or building supplies.

For example, a supplier provides you with an invoice for $800 for 2 night's accommodation costs for a staff member on a site visit. When the supplier expense is disbursed to a project from a bill, you select the appropriate supplier rate, eg 10%. This results in the expense allocated to the project being automatically marked-up by 10% to $880.

Supplier rates use a markup percentage to determine the value of the transaction:

Synergy organisations are created with a 10% markup and 0% markup rates. Update these rates to the required standard values for your projects, or add an extra markup as required.

Tip: If the same item is often purchased via a supplier, try using supplier expense items instead to track the changes in cost for the item over time.


Subcontractor rates are used when disbursing a contractor bill to a project. For example, a subcontractor provides you with a quote for $5000, and when the subcontractor expense is entered the markup selected is 10%. This results in the expense allocated to the project being automatically marked-up to $5500.

Like with supplier rates, subcontractor rates use a markup percentage to determine the value of the resulting transaction:

Synergy organisations are created with a 10% markup and 0% markup rates. Update these rates to the required standard values for your projects, or add extra markup as required.

Tip: If you need a markup % to be different for just one project, try adding a variation instead of adding another markup rate.

Rate variations

Variations can be added to a rate to adjust the charge-out values or markup percentages from an effective date. This allows you to update a rate, whether that be increasing or decreasing the value.

The effective date sets the point in time when the new value is applied. Any transactions that use that rate dated after the effective date will use the new rate value.

Note: the effective date of the new rate value cannot be before the date of the last invoiced transaction that uses that rate.

If there are transactions in WIP status that use the rate and are dated after the effective date, then these will be updated to the new rate value. Transactions before the effective rate are not recalculated to the new rate value.

Variations are applied to adjust the value for all transactions, for any project. Use the specific rates to apply a discount or surcharge to a rate for a specific project.

  • Example 1 - Staff rate - The staff rate 'director' was charged out at $300 / hour in 2018. Next year 2019, the rate needs to be charged out at $350 / hour for all clients. Solution: Use a standard variation.

  • Example 2 - Supplier expense markup - in 2018 all supplier expenses were marked up by 10% on project invoices to clients. In 2019, this markup needs to be changed for all work to 11.5%. Solution: Use a standard variation.

  • Example 3 - Staff rate - A special discounted rate must be created for use for two clients only. The rate 'CAD technician' has a standard charge-out rate for all clients of $95 / hour. A discounted rate of $70 / hour has to be applied to the clients' 'ABC constructions' and 'Flamboyant designs' only. Solution: Use a client variation.

  • Example 4 - Staff cash expenses - For a selected project job, an agreement has been reached that no mark-up will be applied to staff cash expenses. Any project expenses (besides mileage) will be on-charged to the client without any markup being applied. Solution: Use a project variation.

Actions available

Add new rates

If you need to create a new rate, you can do that from the rates list.

  1. Select the rate group you want to add to from the rate group list at the top left.

  2. Click Add at the top right of the screen, and select the type of rate you're creating.

  3. Enter the rate name, and the required values. These will be different depending on the type of rate you're creating. See the above sections on each rate type for more information on each type.

  4. Select the rate groups you want this rate to be active on.

  5. Click Save

e.g. Adding a new staff rate

Adding a new staff rate

Tip: You can't have two rates with the same name; rate names need to be unique. If you are trying to create a rate that already exists, you will get an error. Try looking at the list of inactive rates by clicking on the 'Show inactive rates' option to see if the one you want is already there.

Mark rates as inactive

Rates cannot be deleted if they have already been used in a project budget, or allocated to a time or expense transaction. Mark the rate as 'inactive' to stop it appearing in dropdown lists for future use.

Mark the rate(s) as 'inactive' by:

1) Go to : Settings > Financial > Rates.

  • Single row - Click the row action button, and select 'Set as not active'.

  • Multi row - Use the checkboxes on the left to select the rate(s) that you want to make inactive, click the bulk action arrow at the bottom, and select 'Set as not active'.

2) The rate is inactive and unavailable for future use. This will not impact any of the transactions or budget rows that are already using this rate.

Tip: When using the 'all' rate statuses filter, the inactive rates are shown with a strikeout style applied.

Add a rate variation

To add a rate variation, or update a rate:

  1. Go to: Settings > Financial > Rates.

  2. Locate the rate in the list and click on the row to open for edit.

  3. Click Update Rate

  4. Enter the details required:

    1. Effective date

    2. Enter the new charge value, markup percentage, or cost, depending on the type of rate you're adjusting

  5. Click Save

Create a new rate group

To create a new rate group:

  1. Go to Settings > Financial > Rates

  2. Click the ellipses at the top right and select 'Create new rate group'

  3. On the create rate group screen, you will need to enter the Name of the rate group, select an adjustment method, and select the rates you want to bring over to the new rate group

    1. If you choose an adjustment method, you will need to enter the percent for the adjustment

  4. Once done, click Save at the top right.

Rename rate group

If you need to rename a custom rate group:

  1. Go to Settings > Financial > Rates

  2. Click the rate group list and select the custom rate group

  3. click the ellipses at the top right and select 'Rename rate group'

  4. A dialogue box will show, prompting you to enter a new name for the rate group.

  5. Enter a new name and click Save

Make rate group inactive

A rate group cannot be deleted, so if you need to prevent a rate group from being used, you will need to make it inactive.

  1. Go to Settings > Financial > Rates

  2. Click the rate group list and select the custom rate group

  3. click the ellipses at the top right and select 'Set inactive'

The rate group will now be inactive and no longer be able to be selected when choosing rate groups. For projects that still use it, it will act as normal.

Undo or delete a variation rate change

In some cases, you may need to reverse a change to a rate. This can only be done if the rate variation has not been used on any invoiced or written-off transactions.

To undo a rate variation:

  1. Go to: Settings > Financial > Rates.

  2. Locate the rate in the list and click on the row to open for edit.

  3. Go to Rate History

  4. The latest rate variation will be shown at the top. If the rate you want to undo is not at the top, you will need to undo the top rate until you get to the one you need to.

  5. Click the row action button, and select 'rollback'.

  6. The variations panel is updated, and the new top row is the current rate value.

Project variations

*This feature is available with the Synergy Business or Enterprise products.*

If you want to create a variation of a rate that will be used for just one project, you can use specific rates for that. See this article on Project and Stage specific rates.

After reviewing rates and rate groups, you will now be able to create your own and update any existing ones.

Where to next?

What other features does this relate to?

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