George Mehok and Rick Moran Weigh in on the Next Generation of Field Services

The March issue of MReport featured an article written by Safeguard Properties Chief Information Officer George Mehok and Assistant Vice President of Application Architecture Rick Moran titled The Next Generation of Field Services.

The Next Generation of Field Services

The Industry Continues To Evolve As New Technology Emerges, Regulations Heighten

When the first digital electronic programmable computers were introduced more than 70 years ago, they relied on vacuum tube technology, the lowest level programming language, and could only solve one problem at a time. They were huge machines, often filling entire rooms, and were expensive to operate. They were also prone to overheating, causing them to frequently malfunction. As technology advanced, four more generations of computers emerged, including artificial intelligence technologies being groomed for future use.

With each generation, computers advanced from the use of vacuum tubes to transistors, integrated circuits to the present-day microprocessors. The machines themselves decreased in size significantly enough to fit in home offices and—with mobile devices—even the palm of one’s hand. And what now fits in our hand can process more than the computers that once filled an entire room.

Just as the computer has evolved with each generation and advance in technology, so has the field services industry. Vendors completing work in the field have progressed from using pencils and paper, taking Polaroid photos, and faxing field results that took hours–and sometimes days–to process, to submitting property information and digital photos from the field in almost real-time using mobile devices and applications. This evolution has led to improvements in on-time performance, quality and an overall more efficient process from the field to the mortgage-servicing client. It also has sparked the next generation of field services as companies within the industry continuously upgrade to new technologies for both internal and external uses.

Internal Systems Updates

Similar to computer and mobile technologies, companies are consistently re-evaluating and updating internal operations systems. What worked even a few years ago can be improved upon with new technologies emerging every day. Technology has sped up the pace of business and field services companies’ internal systems need to remain in line with the latest technologies to be able to process the millions of points of data gathered daily about properties they maintain on behalf of their servicing clients across the country. With the advances in mobile technology, and its ability to transfer information in near real-time, internal field services employees need to have the tools to process and analyze field results quickly and accurately. And as mobile technologies and devices continue to change the face of the field services industry, those companies’ internal systems must take advantage of the efficiencies and quality that mobile has to offer.

Recently, Safeguard Properties, the largest field services company in the U.S., completed the first phase of replacing its core, internal field service system. The new, state-of-the-art system, named SPIGlass, integrates all internal, client and vendor systems to display field results, photos, and updates in one central workflow system. Property information and history are easily reviewed and recorded in this updated system.

Safeguard focused the first release of this new system on one of the most important functions within its operations–property damage assessment. When vendors submit their work order results, that damage data is automatically separated and stored in the SPIGlass system. Employees receiving those results are then able to identify and review damages and property history more efficiently without having to toggle between multiple systems.

Additionally, photos are displayed by category, side-by-side, so they can easily make apples-to-apples comparisons of any damages to help determine if the issue is worsening.

The design of the system also improves quality and accuracy by standardizing the process of auditing damages. Employees are prompted with a script of questions they must answer when reviewing a property, creating a more robust tracking system. The information that is displayed represents the entire loan history related to damages, including when the condition was reported, the level of severity, and when steps were taken to resolve the damage.

Mortgage servicing clients benefit from field services companies’ internal system upgrades, like SPIGlass. They can access information more efficiently and with confidence that the results are quality checked and accurate. The entire history of the property is at their fingertips making it easier to pull reports and make more informed business decisions on the maintenance of each of the properties in their portfolios.

Mobile Generation

As the field services industry cycles through its own generations of technology, mobile has been one of the biggest game changers for improving quality and efficiency of results from the field. This is especially important to servicers who face heightened scrutiny from regulators and who need to make critical decisions on preserving their assets or properties in their portfolios.

With mobile devices and applications, results from the field can be delivered and quality checked in a fraction of the time it used to take vendors and field services employees. As that information comes in at a faster pace, the next generation of field services must be able to guarantee the quality and accuracy.

Photos are key to the field services industry. They serve as the evidence in determining occupancy, property condition, and that work was completed properly and on-time. Field services companies need to validate their authenticity and protect the quality of the images that are submitted to them and subsequently submitted to servicing clients. Mobile devices and applications are the key to compliance and are used by vendors in the field services industry to capture a rich set of information each time a photo is taken. Using that information can help field services companies weed out potential duplicate photos, ensure those photos were taken within the proper work-order timeframe, and confirm they were taken at the correct location.

Because photos help create a timeline or story at each property, it is important that they are used to paint an accurate picture. Having the ability to identify and mitigate the potential for duplicate photo submissions is critical for field services companies. Often these duplications are a result of human error, and can be detrimental to preserving the integrity of a property.

To eliminate the possibility of duplicate photos, field services companies can rely on the information—or metadata—captured by the mobile device or app. This information can be used to build an index of all of the photos already submitted. If a vendor erroneously tries to upload an image through his or her mobile device that is already in the system, he or she is notified and the image is rejected. To move on with submitting the field results, the vendor must submit a different photo. This helps protect field services companies and their servicing clients from duplicate images being used across orders and ensures the work was completed by the vendor.

Equally as detrimental is the potential submission of photos taken for previous work orders. For example, a vendor may take hundreds of photos during one visit, but only submit half with the field results. When he or she has to go back to the property for subsequent orders, those “leftover” images cannot be uploaded on new orders because of date and time stamps built into the mobile device or apps. The vendor also cannot submit photos that were taken with the date and time stamp feature turned off.

One of the most recent advances in technology for the field services industry is capturing geolocation data—longitude and latitude coordinates—attached to photos submitted through mobile devices. If these coordinates do not match established GPS data of the property, the image is either rejected immediately or flagged for internal review. This is a critical advancement for field services companies and servicers in ensuring vendors are at the correct property.

Safeguard conducts regular audits on its field results and photos, including determining the accuracy of the geolocation data gathered by its vendors in the field. It also uses this data in its new internal system to map the exact location each photo was taken at a property. Servicing clients also ask for this information when conducting audits on the company.

The goal of these multiple layers of quality checkpoints is to get immediate validation that the vendor is at the right location and submitting accurate information and photos, rather than reviewing the information after the vendor has left the property. This saves time for both the vendor and the field servicer because issues are resolved immediately, additional trips are not necessary, and the field servicer can be confident in the information it receives.

Future of Field Services

Video technology is the future of field services. While there are some hurdles such as inconsistent cellular networks, mobile device limitations, and servicer compatibility issues, field services companies like Safeguard have begun testing its use in the field. The possibilities seem endless. Imagine vendors being able to show the full extent of damages in the field and receiving approvals in realtime while still at that property. Or having video proof that a property is in convey condition, and rather than calling into the field services company, the vendor can show the property’s condition through a live feed or streaming video. Although video probably will not replace the need for photos in field services, it certainly will enhance the quality of work completed in the field.

Like the evolution of the computer, field services companies need to constantly refine and improve their processes as new technologies emerge. Technology has propelled the industry from notepads and waiting days for field results to mobile devices transmitting near real-time information. But some of the most significant advances are the quality and accuracy of the information being submitted and processed. The future of field services will continue to be influenced by emerging technologies. The key is how those companies choose to put it to use. Investing in technology will be a huge differentiator in determining what companies remain successful in the field services industry.

George Mehok is the chief information officer and
Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application
architecture for Safeguard Properties, the largest field
services company in the U.S.

Please click here to view The Next Generation of Field Services [pdf].

About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the mortgage field services industry leader, preserving vacant and foreclosed properties across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Safeguard provides the highest quality service to our clients by leveraging innovative technologies and proactively developing industry best practices and quality control procedures. Consistent with Safeguard’s values and mission, we are an active supporter of hundreds of charitable efforts across the country. Annually, Safeguard gives back to communities in partnership with our employees, vendors and clients. We also are dedicated to working with community leaders and officials to eliminate blight and stabilize neighborhoods. Safeguard is dedicated to preserving today and protecting tomorrow.  Website:



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.


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.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers 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.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

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.


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.


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.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance 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.


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.


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.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.