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"The Fallacy of the 4th Quarter"

By Jason Stone

October 1st marks the beginning of the fourth quarter, and every year around that day the phones begin to ring at software development agencies like Engage. They ring a lot.

Why is that?

The answer lies in another date, January 2nd. On or around October 1st, it sets in that there’s almost no year left. All the high hopes organizations had for

web and mobile efforts under this calendar year are suddenly up against a hard deadline, and an otherwise arbitrary date, January 2nd, becomes an official “We must launch by the start of the New Year!” deadline.

And why not?

Normally, 3 months is plenty of time for a standard, planned web or mobile effort, but – be cautioned – this is not always the case in the 4th quarter. The reason lies in yet another month -- December. In December there aren't 4 full weeks of work, in fact, at least at Engage – by policy – we cannot commit to any live deployment in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas (too often it violated our “family first” culture by asking staff to work on holidays). When you lose a fair share of December to holidays, you simply don’t have enough time in your quarter to do a new project, especially if your firm has existing commitments to other clients.

“But, it’s October already,” you say. It is, and as a result, most companies looking to launch their digital effort are soon going to find most quality development firms (who treat their staff well) are going to be saying, “We can’t commit to a January 1 launch.” So what’s the value in sharing this on the blog at this stage in the year? It’s not in any way about refusing work in the 4th quarter. It’s simply about resetting and adjusting expectations of leadership, committees, and planners. I’d like to believe most agencies want to offer their clients their best and highest work (we certainly do). Given enough time, we can always do that. Resetting expectations about what can be delivered on projects that begin in the 4th quarter makes for a better understanding of what can and can’t be done. Resetting deadlines to allow for the best work can help minimize everyone’s stress level from the outset, and makes for a more successful project.

A good friend used to say, “A better understanding makes for a longer friendship.” We’d love to do work for you, and we’re very good about meeting or beating deadlines. We just hope that you’ll consider a date other than January 2nd. Let's discuss what you have in mind. Call me at 314-884-2448.

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