Changing With the Times

Editorial
April 6, 2017
 

Humans have changed very little over the past few thousand years. The biology and genetics of our ancestors hundreds of generations in the past differ very little from our makeup today. However, our institutions, technology, and environment have no such anchor to biology. Constant change and the embracing of technology have required our 10,000-year-old minds to act differently and become more nimble than ever before. To this challenge, we apply the discipline of change management.

Change management is a term that refers to any approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations using methods intended to redirect the use of resources, business processes, budget allocations, or other modes of operation that significantly reshape a company or organization, according to Wikipedia. These types of changes often make headlines, such as when a company introduces a new enterprise resource planning system or revises reporting relationships. However, most changes are on a smaller scale but are just as impactful if done well—or poorly.

Change management as a discipline focuses on how people and teams are affected by an organizational transition. It deals with many different functions, from behavioral and social sciences to information technology and business solutions. In a project management context, change management may refer to the change control process wherein changes to the scope of a project are formally introduced and approved.

The international bestselling book Leading Change by Dr. John Paul Kotter has been incredibly influential in the field of change management. A New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Kotter is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School and the founder of management consulting firm Kotter International. His work has earned him the reputation of an authority on change in the arenas of business and leadership. In Leading Change, Dr. Kotter outlines a practical eight-step process for change management:

Establish a sense of urgency.

Create the guiding coalition.

Develop a vision and strategy.

Communicate the change vision.

Empower employees for broad-based action.

Generate short-term wins.

Consolidate gains and produce more change.

Anchor new approaches in the culture.

Utilizing both the academic research and practical implementations of this discipline, mortgage field services companies can apply its principles as processes and guidelines to continuously evolve in the ever-changing mortgage servicing industry.

Managing Change

Working with regulators, federal agencies, state and local governments, code officials, clients, and other parties requires continued vigilance and understanding of specific, unique requirements. When a change is made at any of those entities, it manifests itself into the specific actions of field services companies’ inspector and contractor networks.

A simple change requiring language modification of a posting at a property requires the coordination of hundreds and at times, thousands of specific actors. Thus, any time field services companies have to implement a change, they must carefully consider the impact and how they manage the evolving expectations.

Field services companies roll out many changes to their inspector and contractor networks and internal users. These changes are either to optimize quality, timeliness, and/or cost or to react to changes in client or investor expectations. Following Dr. Kotter’s established process for change management, field services companies need to be prepared for changes by developing a full set of activities, some of which are not always required but are available to the team as needed. These activities are common examples:

Work order requirements reflect the new expectation.

Policy documents and job aids are updated.

Create a video to promote and explain the change.

Send a memo to the applicable inspector and/or contractor network documenting the change that serves as both an explanation of why and a user guide (or a link to a user guide).

Training sessions are scheduled for internal and external users.

Lesson is created and required on learning management systems for employees, inspectors, and contractors.

Utilize social media to broadcast the change.

Hold a conference call with internal and external participants.

Frequently asked questions generated from the call and promotion are sent out as an addendum to the memo.

One month after the initial launch, find champions or subject matter experts for the change and write a case study showing impact. Host another call.

Hard audit stop in operations for the change.

Have a backend top-down-audit-style review and enforcement of change.

Three to five months after the initial change, have an after-action review.

One of the biggest property issues field services companies and mortgage servicers face that is difficult to mitigate—mold—can benefit the most from this specific change-management approach.

Mold Policy

Mold, and the source of moisture feeding mold, is a major challenge to field services companies and property preservation. With properties often sitting vacant for many months or years, properly identifying the source and taking effective action is critical. When the new Mortgagee Letter came out for the Federal Housing Administration in February 2016, field services companies had to rethink their historical approach to identifying mold.

Establishing a new mold policy following the change-management procedures should begin with field services companies like Safeguard Properties determining how to describe the new requirements in the work order. The work order will become specific instructions to set the stage for contractors to assess the condition of the property and the resulting actions based on investor or client allowables. The mold policy needs to be specific in detail, but there are base steps:

Identify the sources of mold and moisture feeding the growth.

Utilize investor/client allowables to address the source.

Validate, using a detailed checklist, the potential causes that are not feeding the mold.

Do the work to address or bid.

Prior to the new policy, contractors were simply asked to identify mold and the source of the moisture. Far too often, “humidity/lack of circulation” was identified incorrectly as the main cause. A policy change can correct that behavior. Utilizing software like Sharepoint can aid in storing and establishing a method of version control for documents. After developing the policy and work-order requirements, field services companies should update all policy documents to establish a single source of truth for internal and external users.

Case Study

The following was identified when Safeguard developed its new mold policy utilizing the change-management process as described above:

Work-order requirements must reflect the new expectation: After establishing the policy, Safeguard updated all work orders to specifically outline the requirements, including a 13-point checklist. The work order organized all the client and investor allowables available, provided the contractor with all the information related to remaining funds, and was specific as to the photo-documentation requirements.

Policy documents and job aids are updated: The work order lays the basis for policy, but the two are interrelated. Safeguard wrote an official policy and linked it into both its internal and external document-sharing sites.

Create a video to promote and explain the change: Using the information in the work order, Safeguard works with contractors and its quality-control staff in the field to write a simple script and create an explanatory video. This video is available on Safeguard’s online learning management system. Videos, in addition to other approaches, allow the company to communicate the change in all learning styles—written, verbal, and interactive—to implement the change.

Send a memo and a user guide: Safeguard formally documents the policy change via an official memo to the contractor network. This memo is an enhanced policy document with extra photos showing examples it has gathered from the field. Also, the memo links to the videos and job aids, and it provides a schedule of events for additional learning opportunities.

Training sessions are scheduled for internal and external users: Partnering with its training department, Safeguard developed a slide deck and comprehensive assessment test to share with internal and external partners. These sessions are hosted in a classroom setting when available and by webinar when not.

Lesson is created and required on learning management systems for employees, inspectors, and contractors: After the training session is completed, the content is put into an online learning course for future employees and vendors to utilize.

Utilize social media to broadcast the change: Safeguard participates in many social media platforms. Trumpeting the information allows the company to inform all users of the change, including actual contractors in the field, their office staff, and other impacted parties. Safeguard seeks to ensure that it provides the information through as many channels as it can.

Hold a conference call with internal and external participants: After contractors have been educated on the new policy, Safeguard understands it is not perfect. It hosts a call that is proctored by a third party to review the material shared, observe, and answer questions.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) generated from the call and promotion are sent out as an addendum to the memo: The conference call generates questions, and Safeguard associates also receive many questions via email. The team that created the mold policy reviews all questions and writes out answers. This FAQ addendum is then published to answer the specific questions asked by the contractor network. As an example, there is a common misconception between a stain-blocker (useful for water stains and graffiti) and a fungicidal paint that includes a stain-blocker. This issue and the brands available were directly addressed in the addendum.

One month after the initial launch, find champions or subject matter experts: Safeguard calls on these experts on the change to write a case study showing impact, and then it hosts another call. The field services company did this in a slightly different manner for mold, instead utilizing the quality-control personnel throughout the United States to partner with contractors and share practices on assessment, bids, and treatment methods.

Hard audit stop in operations for the change: Every order completed by contractors is subjected to multiple audit processes completed by the field services company. Typically, in the first few weeks of a change, there is a learning curve, and contractors are given reminders and additional resources to adjust to the new policy. In doing so, potential issues can be identified up front and mitigated accordingly.

For mold, there is the potential issue of contractors taking photo documentation of sources that were not the source of moisture poorly defined at the start. Field services companies can, in the beginning, provide an additional order to take the proper photos. However, after the initial phase, work orders are not accepted until the proper photos are provided to prove the absence of moisture penetration.

Have a backend top-down-audit-style review and enforcement of change: Safeguard’s quality-assurance team performs many backend audits to line up, in sequence, multiple (50 or more) of the same order for an individual vendor. Its other groups typically are looking at singleton events, which may cause a trend to be missed. For mold assessment, Safeguard looked at many orders where mold and sources were either identified or were documented as not causing an issue. This feedback was provided to the company’s contractors, and it goes over the specific opportunities for better performance.

Three to five months after the initial change, have an internal after-action review: Following the policy change and implementation of the change-management process, it is important for field services companies to hold an internal action review. The goal of these meetings is to determine what needs to improve, what was done well and can be repeated, and finally, if any clarifications or program changes should be made.

For mold, it may be discovered that the number of surfaces with mold varied greatly from home to home and that the expected maximum number of walls with mold occasionally exceeded the previously established maximum. This identified trend can aid in making the policy and work orders encompass a greater number of surfaces with the potential for contracting mold issues.

Constant change and innovations in technology have forced businesses to embrace the discipline of change management and focus on how people and teams are affected by an organizational transition. Dr. Kotter’s eight-step process for managing change can be personalized by field services companies, as Safeguard has, to address the continuous changes the servicing industry faces every day.

Source: DS News

Additional Resource:

Changing With the Times [pdf]

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CHEIF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.

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Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.

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CHEIF INFORMATION OFFICER

George Mehok

George Mehok is the chief information officer for Safeguard. He is responsible for all strategic technology decisions, new systems deployments and data center operations supporting a national network of more than 10,000 mobile workers.

George has more than 20 years of leadership experience dedicated to high-growth companies in the mobile telecommunications and financial services industries, spanning startups to global industry leaders.

George played a senior role in the formation of Verizon Wireless, leading the IT product development and strategic planning team. He led the integration planning for the Verizon merger including: GTE, Vodafone-AirTouch, Bell Atlantic Mobile and PrimeCo.

As chief information officer at Revol Wireless, a VC-backed CDMA wireless communications network operator, George’s team implemented an integrated technology infrastructure and award-winning business intelligence platform.

George holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Eastern Michigan University and an M.B.A. from The Ohio State University. He is a board member of Akron University’s School of Business Center for Information Technology, in addition to an advisory board member for OHTec.

In 2013, George won the Crain’s Cleveland Business CIO of the Year award for his team’s work in completing a major acquisition and technology transformation at Safeguard. In 2015, George’s team was recognized by InformationWeek’s annual Elite 100 ranking of the most innovative U.S.-based users of business technology. The mobile inspection technology developed at Safeguard was selected as InformationWeek’s “One of the top 20 ideas to steal in 2015”.

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General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard, with oversight responsibilities for the legal, human resources, training, compliance and audit departments. Linda’s broad scope of oversight covers regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, pro-active risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human capital and training initiatives, compliance and audit services, litigation and claims management, and counsel related to mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda’s oversight of the legal department along with multiple compliance and human capital focused departments assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans almost 20 years, and Linda’s experience, both as outside and in-house counsel, covers a wide range of corporate matters, including regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.

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VP, Finance and Vendor Management

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the vice president of finance and vendor management for Safeguard. Joe leads the accounting and information security departments, and is a key leader in the management of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets. He also leads the service supply chain including vendor sourcing, field quality control, and delivery, in addition to the quality assurance function for the company.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.

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AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.

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AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.

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AVP, Human Capital

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of human capital for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.

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AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.

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AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.

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AVP, Mobile and Analytics

Jason Heckman

Jason Heckman is the assistant vice president of mobile and analytics for Safeguard. He is responsible for both Safeguard’s mobile development and strategy as well as the company’s data warehousing and business intelligence. Jason oversees the design, development and release of all Safeguard’s internally developed mobile applications. He also oversees the development and delivery of operational and analytical data technologies throughout the organization.

Jason joined Safeguard as manager of mobile in 2012. During that time he led the development and integration of Safeguard’s mobile applications across the company’s vendor network to provide real-time data from the field. In 2014, he was promoted to director of mobile applications and named assistant vice president in 2017.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Jason was the director of application development and business intelligence for Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana.

Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

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Director, Business Development & Marketing

Tim Rath

Tim Rath is the director of business development and marketing for Safeguard. He is responsible for developing innovative growth strategies for Safeguard and developing and overseeing potential partnerships, mergers and acquisitions.

Tim joined Safeguard in 2011 as project director and has filled numerous roles within Vendor Management, most recently serving as director of vendor management, a role he assumed in 2011.

Prior to Safeguard, Tim worked as director of supply chain at PartsSource Inc. in Aurora, Ohio, a provider of medical replacement parts, procurement solutions and healthcare supply chain management technology services. He also has held sales positions with Rexel, ComDoc, and Pier Associates, all based in Ohio.

Tim holds a degree in marketing and sales from The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. He also earned his FAA Certified Commercial UAS (Drone) Pilot license in 2017.