How United Bankshares, Inc. Drove 35% Cost Savings

How United Bankshares, Inc. Drove 35% Cost Savings

When United Bankshares, Inc (UBSI) experienced a period of explosive growth, internal audit needed to rapidly scale to keep pace. Learn how Courtney Sheff, Senior Internal Audit Manager at UBSI, and her team leveraged technology to save and reallocate resources and to improve coordination between internal audit, business owners, external audit, and regulators and download the full Digital Success Story below!

With dual headquarters in Washington, D.C. and Charleston, WV, United Bankshares, Inc. (UBSI), is a $19.7 billion regional bank holding company and parent company of United Bank and George Mason Mortgage. From 2011-2017, UBSI experienced tremendous growth as it successfully completed four significant acquisitions that more than doubled the franchise’s asset size. Courtney Sheff, a Senior Audit Manager in the UBSI Internal Audit Department, recalls that “it was an exciting and challenging period for internal audit. We had to keep up with all the changes to the company so we could audit these new areas, and also align with regulatory requirements and audit quality standards that newly applied to us when we surpassed the $10 billion mark. It was also a time of innovation and momentum for audit, with learning and career opportunities as we grew and enhanced our department and audit skills.”

United Bankshares Success Story
Download Full United Bankshares Inc. Success Story


The internal audit department needed to rapidly scale their risk-based audit program, SOX 404 control suite, and formal audit procedures to keep pace with the company’s growth — and their audit management tool at the time wasn’t able to handle the additional complexity. “Our previous software had some common criticisms from our audit staff,” said Michelle Furl, Internal Audit Manager at UBSI. “Too many clicks to drill down to the information you are seeking, lack of spell-check functionality, slowness when navigating or checking files in and out, input redundancy, non-specific SOX control testing workpapers, and a very basic management control certification process.”

The tipping point came when their previous tool was scheduled to be phased out. “Our previous audit software company offered to move us to their new platform, but it was expensive and after viewing demonstrations, we did not feel the new solution would benefit our department,” said Sherry Fischl, Internal Audit Manager at UBSI. 

To keep up with company growth and optimize their efficiency and coverage, UBSI solidified their decision to look for a better organized and more user-friendly audit software platform. 

Due Diligence During the Decision Process

After deciding to make a change, UBSI requested information, demonstrations, and Q&A sessions from 5 different solution vendors. “We spent a lot of time vetting potential solutions, and created a spreadsheet to document, compare, and score the key features of each product such as: ease of audit work/issue documentation and organization; the audit work approval process; system configuration capabilities; system speed; the SOX certification process; and reporting capabilities,” said Sheff. UBSI selected AuditBoard after incorporating input from multiple stakeholders. “We put a lot of effort into the decision-making process,” said Sheff. “I think it says a lot that after thoroughly comparing all the features, we ended up choosing AuditBoard.”

Once the internal audit department had selected AuditBoard, it was a smooth process to get the UBSI Vendor Management and Information Security teams on board with moving forward. “The AuditBoard sales team had already been so friendly, helpful, and timely when answering our software specific questions — another reason we chose AuditBoard! — and they also came through when working on cloud security, insurance, and contracts. We quickly had everything signed and were ready to begin planning for training and implementation,” said Sheff.

Top reasons UBSI selected AuditBoard as their Audit Management Solution:
  1. The SOXHUB 404 Control Certification Process and Narrative/Control Updates: “The availability of information to business process owners, the customizable survey process for the control certification, and the automated narrative updates with changes to linked controls were big improvements & selling points for us.”
  2. Ease of Use and Learning with Online Training & Help: “We felt our auditors would take to using AuditBoard pretty quickly, with little formal training necessary. The online user help guides, FAQs, and videos would be great training and resource tools in conjunction with the free training sessions offered by the implementation team.”
  3. Configurable System with World-Class Customer Service: “The AuditBoard sales team worked to show us how we’d be able to incorporate a lot of specific requests into the system for how we perform our audit work at UBSI and how we report to the Audit Committee. This helped us see how much we’d be able to tailor the product for our needs post-implementation. Additionally, AuditBoard was very responsive to our questions along the way, which made us feel as though we were likely to receive outstanding, prompt customer service post-implementation too.”
  4. Dynamic Reporting Capabilities and Status Views: “We felt auditors would be able to easily see their assignments and due dates, managers would be able to quickly see what they have to review, and many high-level views/reports would make it easy to see the status of the audit plan. It seemed almost anything in the system could be queried and exported to Excel.” 
  5. All-in-One Platform: “With OpsAudit, SOXHUB, integrated Microsoft Office, the Files Repository, Time Reporting and Issue Management all built into the system, the internal audit department would be able to use this as our main system of documentation, without the need for additional tracking spreadsheets or file organization on individual or shared computer drives.”

UBSI’s Benefits from AuditBoard

Real-Time Visibility and Custom Ad Hoc Reporting

More than a simple document repository, AuditBoard provides real-time visibility into status. UBSI can easily access a complete view of the annual audit plan, with the ability to drill down into the details. Dynamic reporting makes it easy to quickly pull in any data point across the platform to build custom, ad hoc reports. 

“I like seeing the status of the work in progress. There are ways to pull reports together, and to see if it’s in open, complete, or reviewed status. It helps us see the testing and the status of everything much easier,” said Furl.

User-Friendly Interface Optimizes Collaboration with Stakeholders

With AuditBoard, internal audit teams can bring process owners, external auditors, and regulatory examiners into the platform — and flexible role-based permissions give users the information they need at their fingertips. 

Role-based permissioning enables external regulators to log in to the platform and access only the documents they need, which takes administrative pressure off the internal audit team to send files. “If our external regulators login to AuditBoard and get what they want instead of coming to us for requests, it will prevent us from creating a lot of PDF files that then get transferred through either secure email or a SharePoint portal,” said Fischl.

“With our old software I got negative comments related to how cumbersome it was. We’ve actually received compliments from several process owners that they love using the AuditBoard system” – Sherry Fischl

UBSI has also had success in using AuditBoard to get feedback from management. “We’ve utilized WorkStream to implement a new Quality Control and Improvement process: post-audit management satisfaction surveys. We’ve had great response rates and suggestions, which will encourage our department to continually improve,” said Fischl.

Personalized Dashboards Facilitate Audit Project Management

UBSI’s audit team uses personalized dashboards to help stay on top of audit project management, with personalized audit assignments, open tasks, and upcoming due dates at a glance. “The AuditBoard system has also helped us internally manage our audit assignments and progress. The system offers multiple dashboards and custom reports that make it quick and easy to monitor all of the projects in-process. It also allows audit managers to quickly assign work with due dates within each project/audit,” said Sheff.

When everyone can do their work within the platform, it’s easy to access audit procedures, evidence, and findings in one place — with instant visibility into status. “I tend to think about things from a management perspective: where are things in the quarter, and are we getting the work done?” said Sheff. “But the auditors preparing the work really like how quick and easy it is to see the status of work papers on the tree view — if everything has been reviewed and approved. They can also see any issues on the work papers right in that view. They felt it saved them a lot of time clicking around to get the full story.”

Address Version Control — Update Once, Update Everywhere

AuditBoard helps UBSI’s audit team keep their SOX documentation accurate, consistent, and easily accessible. When information is updated in any risk, control, or narrative, it flows across your environment and related documents instantly. 

“One of the things we love is the time savings from inputting the control changes and immediately seeing the narrative be updated as well,” said Furl. “In our old system, we had to change the control wording, and then we also had to manually change the narrative word document and the flowchart information. This caused problems when we sometimes wouldn’t get it right or would forget to update one — and then it’s not clear which one is the right version. AuditBoard has prevented some of those problems from happening.” 

All Control Information and Testing on a Single Page

AuditBoard stands out from other solutions because everything you need to test and document for a control lives on a single, collapsible page — eliminating the need to navigate to other areas of the platform to access prior year work, key control information, associated narratives, and requested evidence. 

“Within each view, auditors can filter by business process, groups of walkthroughs, controls, or tests to perform their assigned audit work or to see the status of work in-progress,” said Furl. “The Control page centralizes all control information, including documentation for each test phase (walkthrough, interim, roll forward, and remediation testing) which can be pulled as one .pdf for one phase or all phases. Great features and time savers for internal and external audit!”

Manage and Monitor PBC and Certification Requests in One Place

AuditBoard’s WorkStream module provides a quick and easy certification process, making it simple to create and send certification requests with just one click, and propose and accept changes directly in requests. 

“It was very easy to set up the certification process. There were very few questions from business owners on how to use the system, and many praised how much easier it is for them to take ownership of their controls. We also like that it’s by control — in our previous system, they did it by process. Now, it’s a much shorter timeframe to actually get certification completed,” said Furl.

Small Efficiencies Add Up to Big ROI

UBSI estimates that the ROI from cost savings as compared to their previous software provider has paid for the software. “After year 1, our Department will be saving approximately 35% a year,” said Sheff. “As compared to our previous software, another quantitative metric that can be estimated is the time savings by all who prepare and review workpapers with the fast upload speed, file preview option, and Microsoft Online instant update features. If every one of our 26 auditors save just 1 minute a day due to this, we’ve gained over 108 audit hours in a year!”

 “It truly feels as though auditors that have a great understanding of the industry’s needs for documenting and organizing quality audit work created the system.” – Courtney Sheff

Leveraging AuditBoard, UBSI’s audit team is now positioned to gain greater efficiencies year over year as they continue to manage their SOX controls, internal audits, and enterprise risk management using the platform. Learn how you can join hundreds of AuditBoard customers like UBSI in saving time and increasing efficiency for your internal audit function.