When the pandemic relief legislation known as the CARES Act passed in late March, BBVA USA recognized that an online application for the Act’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP) would be the best way to expedite funding and ensure the safety and health of its customers and employees.
While an online small business loan application was on the roadmap to be developed for the bank’s award-winning mobile banking app in 2020, it wasn’t yet in place when the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced plans to accept applications beginning April 3.
According to BBVA Chief Technology Officer Jason Howard, developing a new online application would ordinarily require up to a year of planning, development and deployment, but the team committed to launching it in three days.
Howard: "Something this large would typically require a team of 100 people or more."
“Something this large would typically require a team of 100 people or more, including engineering and other support functions within the bank,” Howard said. “But because the PPP funds were being disbursed on a first come, first served basis - and an online application is lightyears more efficient - we knew we needed to make it happen and happen quickly.”
Howard says the team was able to meet its target launch date because the bank empowered a small team with a very focused objective. “We had all stakeholders and control unit teams actively engaged, making rapid decisions without waiting for the typical prioritization process,” Howard said.
Launching the app was the team’s number one priority, recognizing that funding for this program would not be available for long.
Kevin McMahon, head of engineering for BBVA, diverted team members from several areas of the engineering group to focus on this effort, and many worked three days straight to accomplish the goal.
McMahon: "The work simply could not have been done with a typical 8-10 hour workday."
“The work simply could not have been done with a typical 8-10 hour workday,” said McMahon. “You can only have so much development occurring in one app at a time, so we needed our experts to work around the clock developing the code, testing, writing processes and validating those processes.”
The engineering team's three-day turnaround meant that BBVA small business customers would be able to apply for Payroll Protection Program funds online on the first day the program was open.
McMahon: "We all knew we were serving a purpose. We were literally saving people's jobs."
“We all knew we were serving a purpose,” said McMahon. “We were literally saving people's jobs. We were all aware of the impact this could have, or more specifically the potential harm we might cause by not being prepared. That wasn’t a risk we were willing to take for ourselves, and most importantly, for our customers and their livelihoods.”
Click here to visit BBVA USA's small business resource page, and to receive updates on the Payroll Protection Program.