United Bankshares Scales Planning to Growth with Strategic BCP

The greatest benefit is how management views Business Continuity Management. Where there were once only isolated plans or contact lists, there now exists a far more holistic view that elevates Business Continuity to a strategic level with greater relevance within the organization. David Underwood, Vice President and Business Resiliency Manager

Rapid Growth Requires Effective Planning

United Bankshares is a holding company that operates banks in five states and the District of Columbia to provide commercial lending and banking operations—as well as credit card, trust, mortgage, investment, and advisory services. They expect to report $20 Billion in assets for 2017.

Responsibility for Business Continuity Management (BCM) falls to David Underwood, who joined the company in 2007 to oversee the organization's Business Continuity Planning (BCP), Disaster Recovery (DR), Vendor Management, and Information Security. In recognition of his achievements, United Bankshares promoted Mr. Underwood to Vice President and Business Resiliency Manager—currently a lone planning position inside the organization—in 2016.

One Planner, Many Concerns

When one is the sole planner within an organization—especially one that is growing quickly—these challenges magnify. Success requires effective planning strategies—and the ability to gain executive support within the organization. One must advocate for effective planning, possess critical time-management skills, and leverage buy-in and acceptance from executives and other business units.

According to Mr. Underwood, personnel at executive and management levels are concerned with the “bottom line.” As a result, BC planning risks becoming a simple "check box" item. He notes that there was little by way of a formal program in place when he started in 2007—with little cultural significance placed on BCM as a formal discipline. He adds that this has changed significantly in recent years.

Real Change on a Company-Wide Level

Mr. Underwood implemented ResilienceONE BCM software from Strategic BCP as a company-wide BCM software solution. United Bankshares currently employs this comprehensive platform to track key personnel and critical business systems—allowing the company to make important decisions very quickly in the event of a disaster-recovery or business-interruption situation. Currently, 31 business units now have formal plans in place.

Mr. Underwood has shown that effective BCM with ResilienceONE means more than just compliance and has built a business case for BCM by defining its value beyond audits and examinations. Company culture now reflects the importance of planning—including it in the job descriptions of business unit leaders, who help maintain plans for their departments and are accountable for their role in the overall continuity planning effort. He has scaled his program to his company's rapid expansion, bringing the company to where they are today with an innovative program of proven efficiency. The company's future plans are consistent with this growth model.