Joe Iafigliola Utilizes Big Data in Vendor Management

The April issue of DS News featured an article authored by Joe Iafigliola, Safeguard’s vice president of vendor management, titled Using Big Data to Optimize Vendor Networks.


Flexibility and agility are the best tools of a field services provider

Changing markets require companies to adapt with agility and speed, or they will be left
behind as others adjust and take advantage of the situation. For example, consider the
photography industry. Everything from cameras and film, to how people consume
pictures changed with the advent of digital photography. However, some industry
leaders didn’t see how the world was changing around them. Their inability to
acknowledge the digital wave and its impact on photography contributed to their
demise. And, once they finally accepted digital was more than a trend, their
competition was already firmly seated in the very market they had dominated for years.
This scenario plays out in every industry every day. The field services arena is no
different. As the industry matures, players need to be aware of how the world is
changing around them, what is driving this change, and how to remain relevant.

Changes seem to be coming from all directions. Today’s regulatory environment is
continually evolving with new federal and state oversight. Local municipalities also
are enacting new ordinances and property registrations to deal with a shrinking tax
base and the glut of vacant properties that dot the landscape. Shifts in the market are
changing the way field service companies look and function. A couple years ago, many
field services companies worked from static reports. Now interactive visualization is
used to create graphic illustrations of information to help companies better manage
everything from compliance to workforce management.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and nowhere is this truer than in the field
services industry. The industry is in a transition era. It’s being reshaped by the
influence of strong economic, regulatory, and market forces; but the industry is also
agile and is adapting at breakneck speed.

Investments in business intelligence, technology, and quality control are spurring
innovations that were never thought of a couple years ago. These innovations are
having a significant impact on the ability to manage the boots on the ground—the field
services vendors who are working in our neighborhoods as the eyes and ears for
mortgage servicers.

Field services companies gather millions of data points into their systems every day
from internal and external sources. Many are turning these nuggets of intelligence
into actionable information that can maximize the efficiency of complex vendor networks,
such as ensuring the correct number of vendors needed for each geographic region is
recruited and those vendors have the necessary skill sets. Each time an order is
completed, information is gathered and used for future analysis. For example, property
condition reports and on-time order completion can be analyzed to determine
contractor performance by geographic region. Work orders then can be allocated
based on performance history to continuously improve the quality and timeliness of
services provided to clients.

Data analytics also is being used to help clients make informed decisions about millions
of vacant, defaulted, and foreclosed properties across the country so they can
proactively address property issues, cutting down on ordinance violations and neighbor
complaints and eliminating blight. Safeguard Properties, one of the largest field
services companies in the United States, reports 15 to 20 percent of the defaulted
properties it inspects eventually become vacant or abandoned by their owners.

Mortgage companies are in a classic Catch-22 when it comes to vacant properties in
their mortgage portfolios that have been abandoned by their owners but have not
gone through the foreclosure process. Failure to identify and secure abandoned
properties in a timely manner can expose these properties to vandalism and
deterioration. On the other hand, securing a defaulted property in error, believing it
to be vacant, can expose a mortgage servicer to potentially significant financial and
legal liability.

Assuring inspections are thorough and inspectors proceed according to the most
current status of the property is critical. Field services companies that are able to
store and access a property’s data history, such as property status, color, siding
material, and architectural style, as well as the number of garages a home has,
can improve the quality and accuracy of inspections.

But data can be misleading or drive the wrong decisions until it is turned into
information. By integrating current data with historical data, predictive analytics
can be applied to help identify trends and patterns to create agility in services and
network capacity to meet changing market and client needs.

Today business intelligence has shifted the focus from having a simple overview of
what’s going on to now being able to deploy the data to discover causes, effects, and
solutions. But it all starts by asking the simple question: “What do we need to know?”
And then using data and technology to produce sound information to answer it.

The key combination necessary to grow and prosper in this new business landscape is
the ability to integrate the millions of data points and turn them into intuitive displays of
information. In fact, Gartner has forecasted an increase in information technology
spending in 2014 that will reach $3.8 trillion. Strategic investment in technology is the
real game-changer with expenditures in mobile technology leading the way. No longer
must a vendor be tied to a desktop or laptop to upload reports and photos. Advances
in wireless communication have severed the land line and offer vendors the freedom
to complete their work anywhere.

As consolidation in the field services industry continues, more emphasis is being placed
on efficiency, especially in managing vendors—the boots on the ground. Order
workflow has taken on a strategic focus as technology is allowing decisions to be made
at the property level. Heat maps that visually plot which contractors in an area have
extra capacity help to determine where work orders should be funneled. Supply chain
network designers utilize this information to determine where to issue work orders and
to which vendors. This information is overlaid with vendor quality results to determine
optimal order distribution. It also can alert to the need to change order flow and work
distribution to another vendor, if for example, a vendor runs into a capacity issue
related to a significant amount of work at a property and needs additional time before it
can take another work order. Data analytics and heat maps can identify the next best
choice and route work to a different vendor. Distribution of work orders verified by data
analytics reduces time loss, leading to faster response times, improved compliance,
higher quality of work, and ultimately, reduced costs.

For clients, this efficiency also translates into a higher return on their investments in the
form of lower field service costs. As banks place more and more emphasis on
reinvesting in vacant properties and getting squeezed by compliance burdens, field
service companies need to be cognizant of this new dynamic and savvy enough to
integrate data from the field with technology to create processes that optimize efficiency.

Although market conditions have evened out as the country appears to leave the
financial crisis behind, the rules of the mortgage game are still changing. New and
tighter regulations are squeezing an already highly-regulated mortgage industry,
putting players at greater risk than previously experienced. This scrutiny not only
affects mortgage companies, but also cascades down to field services companies
and their vendors and employees. But it doesn’t stop there. It cascades further
down to sub-vendors who must also comply with all regulatory requirements.

Field services companies are finding themselves in a unique position to help their
servicing clients maneuver through myriad of government regulations, as well as
strengthen their own risk-management requirements. Servicers today must
document nearly every process to demonstrate compliance. To monitor and
ensure compliance with internal policies and external regulatory requirements,
companies not only audit their own processes and outcomes, but also those of
their vendors and suppliers. And this has never been more important than in
today’s mortgage servicing business.

The ability to maintain compliance ultimately rests on having sound processes. What
processes are in place to ensure client and customer confidentiality? Are vendors
and their subs licensed in the various municipalities in which they are working? Are
work orders being distributed in the most efficient way possible? The list goes on
and on.

Vendor audits add another level of oversight and are a useful tool in developing
competencies that can help vendors complete work accurately and on time.

A strong focus on compliance and quality control procedures helps assure all parties
involved—vendors, field services companies, mortgage servicers, and
investors—comply with all regulations and ordinances. This protects the condition
and value of vacant and abandoned properties, upholds the value and integrity of
surrounding properties and neighborhoods, and protects the most fragile
communities from expanding blight.

Being agile in today’s business world means being adaptable. It means managing
ever-evolving needs and regulations. It means creating nimble operations that can
see the forest through the trees as market conditions shift. The common thread
that spans the field services industry is that property and neighborhood preservation
will continue to be vital to the servicing industry; and data, technology, and
compliance are the new forces driving the field services companies that will succeed
in this new world.

Please click here to view the article in PDF.

About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders, and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. 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.