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In order to track client progress toward graduation, identify clients who need extra help, or obtain data on incubator economic impact, incubator staff can use both formal evaluation processes and less formal means. Learn how several incubator managers keep tabs on their client companies' progress.

Keeping things in check: Tracking progress can help ensure clients become graduates

by Linda Knopp

June 2006

Regular conversations between clients of the Advanced Technology Development Center and its business development staff have long been a staple of the Atlanta-based incubation program. ATDC General Manager Tony Antoniades says keeping tabs on clients’ progress – whether through informal hallway discussions or regularly scheduled reviews – alerts the staff when a company might need assistance with developing a pitch to investors or lining up customers and lets the clients know how the incubator might be able to help.

Each of ATDC’s 43 clients sits down monthly with one staff member to talk informally about their progress and quarterly with two incubator staff members to review financials. (ATDC has a business development staff of 6.5 full-time workers.) “During these conversations, both the clients and the incubator can be held accountable,” Antoniades says. “We can look each other in the eyes and say, ‘This is what you said you’d do when we last met. Have you done it?’”

Antoniades is one of a number of incubator executives who use both specific processes and informal conversations to track client progress, whether to identify clients who might need a helping hand, to know when a company is approaching graduation, or to obtain data to demonstrate the incubator’s economic impact. Read on to learn how several have honed the process.

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Keywords: benchmarking clients, coaching clients

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