Saving 900 Hours Every Month & Achieving On-Time Completion of Reconciliations

The Challenge

Despite modernizing customer transactions with an online banking portal, accountants at Haven Savings Bank still relied on an outdated—and time-consuming—manual close process.

“When I first started with the bank, daily reconciliations weren’t even being done in Excel. Accountants were making notes on statements when transactions cleared,” says Thomas Buthorn, CPA, VP, and controller at Haven Savings Bank.

“We’d print reports from our accounting system and basically go back and forth, marking off what matched. Each reconciliation took 45 minutes. At the end of the month, we’d do an Excel reconciliation as the final.” 

Federal Home Loan Bank reconciliations were particularly difficult. “Performing Federal Home Loan Bank reconciliations were highly manual and took nearly an hour each day to complete,” says Buthorn.

The bank’s reliance on notes and spreadsheets also hampered visibility and coordination between groups. “Certain GLs were even more difficult. For example, if a specific GL was for a loan for the loan group, we spent a lot of time contacting everyone trying to figure out what should or shouldn’t be in there.”

Why BlackLine

Haven Savings Bank needed a new close solution, one that would increase visibility, standardization, and automation while freeing staff for more meaningful and value-added work. “I knew how long everything took and some of the pains staff went through to reconcile accounts,” says Buthorn. “That’s what inspired me to search for a new solution.”

After researching several vendors, Buthorn opted to do a demo with BlackLine. “Originally, we just wanted to move away from our manual close process and streamline reconciliations. But during the demo, we learned about all the other things BlackLine can do. We saw how helpful it would be for transaction matching, tasks, and variance analysis as well.”

Haven’s controller (now CFO) immediately saw the value in BlackLine. “Our controller knew what we were going through. He understood how difficult it was and how we lacked visibility,” says Buthorn. “We then had to convince our president that it was a valuable investment. We showed him how BlackLine would increase our productivity and efficiency, especially because we might not have to replace someone who was retiring. He recognized the potential for cost savings.” 

Buthorn opted to rely on a consultant to help the team with implementing and rolling out BlackLine. “We had a really good experience. Our consultant set weekly goals and updates. We had a project plan that showed who was responsible for which tasks. It helped keep us on track.”

The consultant also trained staff on how to use Account Reconciliations. “Staff were trained over two sessions. After that, I was able to take over the training,” says Buthorn. “Staff were really receptive. They knew we needed a better solution, and after training, everyone was on board.”

The Results

Saved time, including 900 hours per month on one account. Buthorn and his team realized value from BlackLine, especially time saved, “within two closes.”

“We have a lot of GLs for deposit liabilities. With spreadsheets, it took a lot of time to convert the information into a report to show that there are no differences. With BlackLine, we can just upload a sub-ledger and it matched automatically. That reduces our time by 45 minutes to an hour,” says Buthorn. “Our accountants don’t have to waste time looking at differences that don’t exist. They can spend their time on legitimate differences.”

The team is also realizing significant time savings while reconciling their Federal Home Loan Bank account. “With BlackLine, our reconciliations are standardized and automated, saving us 45 minutes per day or 900 hours total each month.”

Improved morale and freed staff to focus on more value-added work. Haven’s finance team is a mix of accounting and bank operations experts. Because BlackLine automates so much repetitive, manual work, these experts have more time to work on strategic activities.

“Staff is taking on more value-added work, such as compliance,” says Buthorn. “BlackLine has made them happier, as well. They no longer have to deal with preparing all of these files anymore. They can go straight to analyzing.”

Enabled on-time completion of reconciliations. Previously, Haven’s manual close process made it challenging to finish reconciliations on time. “We had some accounts that were done after we closed just for timeliness,” says Buthorn. “That’s no longer the case. With BlackLine, we’re reconciling 99% of our GLs before closing.”

Streamlined journals. Prior to BlackLine, journal entry was incredibly convoluted—and risky.

“We only had two Oracle licenses, so only two people could post journals. If someone else had a journal they needed posted, they would mail an Excel file to one of the two people. They would then upload it from Excel to Oracle and go into Oracle and post it. There was always the risk of overwriting the Excel file or forgetting to post it afterward,” says Buthorn.

Today, anyone can upload a journal entry within BlackLine and there’s no need to email Excel files back and forth. While the time savings is significant, Buthorn appreciates the visibility, as well. “Before, I would have to go into Oracle just to see what was posted. Now, even if I’m not the approver, I can go in and see everything that’s been done.”

Enabled standardization. With BlackLine, all close activities are now standardized. “Having all reconciliations in one place, rather than trying to manage 50 different Excel sheets, makes a difference,”


Banks & Credit Unions





Company Size


Business Impact

Saved time

Improved morale

Freed staff to focus on more value-added work

Enabled on-time completion of reconciliations

Streamlined journals

Enabled standardization.

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