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Customer success story

Research time cut from 5 hours to 15 minutes, freeing up time for strategic work

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“We all sleep better at night knowing that with the support of Xapien, we carried out due diligence in a very comprehensive way.” 

Paula Alionyte, Head of Advancement Operations at Newcastle University

Background

Newcastle’s Advancement department is split into three teams: Alumni Engagement, Philanthropy and Operations. Paula oversees Operations, leading predominantly with Database, Prospect Research and Governance and related matters. Her team is responsible for protecting the University from reputational risk by undertaking prospect research and donor due diligence.

The challenge

The Operations team had one Research Assistant carrying out the entirety of their prospect research, which carried a lot of unnecessary risk. While great at finding information, the researcher didn’t have enough experience to interpret and assess various risks and there was a risk they might something. The research process was also entirely manual, which was time-consuming and, in some cases, patchy. The researcher would end up spending most of the time looking up information on databases and search engines, and then writing up the results, leaving little time for analysis and interpretation. 

Where Xapien steps in

Xapien alleviated all these risks by automating the fact finding. Now, Paula and her team spend more time interpreting the risks that Xapien surfaces and categorises rather than collating the findings. They’ve gone from 4 to 5 hours of reading hundreds of articles online to running a comprehensive report in 15 minutes. Paula’s team can deliver value to the rest of the organisation by adding strategic advice on top of their insights. They stopped wasting time on less problematic cases at the outset and instead prioritise analysing risky subjects and developing strategies for how the University could deal with them

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“Xapien reports provide a strong foundation of easy-to-read findings that are easy for a human eye to process.”

Paula Alionyte, Head of Advancement Operations at Newcastle University

Research before Xapien

Prior to having Xapien, the Operations team had one Research Assistant carrying out the entirety of our prospect research. Even though the quality of output was very high, they were aware of the level of responsibility and risk involved.  Equally, the process of finding information from publicly available sources was entirely manual, taking a very long time and in some cases, very patchy. The researcher would end up spending most of the time looking up information on databases and search engines, and then writing up the results, leaving little time for analysis and interpretation.  

Paula felt that it carried a lot of unnecessary risk. Firstly, the researcher, albeit great at finding information, didn’t have enough experience to interpret and assess various risks. Also, at the back of their minds was always the thought of them missing something. They didn't have access to every potential background search database and that left them with a certain degree of uncertainty. Lastly, it was important for them to have a consistent, unified approach to all due diligence checks, irrespective of the time available or access to different sources at the time of processing.  

Research after Xapien

Xapien alleviated all these risks. Firstly, it automated the fact finding, leaving with them with ample time for interpretation of already flagged and categorised risks.  Through Xapien report interpretation, the Research team continues to build on their understanding of different types and levels of risks and interpret them in a more accurate way and based on the University values. Xapien reports provide a strong foundation of easy-to-read findings that are easy for a human eye to process.   

It takes the process from spending 4-5 hours reading hundreds of articles online to a simple review of categorised sources and potential risk flags using the automated report. They run Xapien reports upfront on all qualified prospects. It takes seconds to input the name and then around 15 minutes for a report to be generated.   

The upshot is that it has driven major efficiencies, cost savings and great value for money on staff time required to carry out the task. Also, training costs can now be focused on understanding risk interpretation rather than fact-finding element of research.  They can safely say they all sleep better at night knowing that with the support of AI technology and human interpretation, they carried out due diligence in a very comprehensive way.  

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