Moving Out Of The Stone Age

Editorial
October 3, 2016

Utilizing technology to keep employees in compliance.

A stereotypical business office scene often depicts filing cabinets overflowing with papers, stacks of documents and files piled on desks in a sea of cubicles that seem to go on for miles, fax machines churning out endless reams of paper, computers buzzing, and employees scribbling notes while answering a stream of phone calls. In some industries, these images hit very close to home. In fact, it was less than a decade ago when the mortgage field services industry embraced new technologies and subsequently went paperless – well, almost.

Like many businesses or industries, there is one segment that can still be stuck in an avalanche of paper – support departments, or specifically, the human resources (HR) department. The first impression these businesses make when hiring new employees – often millennial applicants who can be considered techie experts – is that these departments are stuck in the Stone Age as they juggle a stack of documents on their first day of work. Like many companies, operations, or the heart of the organization, are the first to receive the latest and greatest in technology, and often, the support departments are left to utilize out-of-date systems.

As technology evolves, companies invest a significant amount of money upgrading operational systems and implementing this new technology. In doing so, they have learned of the impact technology can have on an organization. Through technology, companies have been able to automate certain processes and improve workflow, among many other benefits. To aid in bringing that department out of the dark ages, it is imperative that companies implement an electronic filing system because the benefits companies are experiencing in operations can be effective for their HR departments, as well. This includes improving organization by streamlining processes, engaging the company’s information security team and ensuring compliance with client guidelines, in addition to guaranteeing that clients, too, are in compliance with regulatory guidelines and local, state and federal legislation.

Organization improved

Onboarding new employees or even maintaining files for existing associates requires housing a lot of documents and an incredible amount of organizational skills. There is an abundance of paperwork that needs to be completed when onboarding a new associate. This can become overwhelming from a tracking perspective. Often, the data needed from one form to another is duplicative and becomes time-consuming to complete. If a simple application on your smartphone can streamline processes, why can’t support departments do the same?

The way the system works is once the offer letter for a new employee has been signed, an electronic system enables companies to send links to a new associate. This allows him or her to complete the documentation prior to his or her arrival so the first day can be spent hitting the ground running – interacting with new teammates, training for the new position and learning about the industry – rather than filling out forms. The system also can be configured to send push notifications to the applicant when documents are not submitted. This saves time for both the applicant or the new employee and the recruiting associate. It also frees up other HR associates to dedicate time to developing new employees and other employee relations initiatives.

With the right electronic filing system, the sky is the limit. The most effective tool utilizes a robust workflow system. Not only can it streamline internal HR files – originating with the onboarding process – but it can also implement workflows for other HR-related processes.

An electronic filing system can be used to create a link that generates a workflow when placing an associate on any type of corrective counseling. This allows the HR associate to be actively involved, ensure designated follow-up with an associate occurs and maintain consistency across the board. Additionally, analytics are available on the types of corrective action that are transpiring within the organization. Based on this information, companies can determine if there is a policy that needs revising or clarification – in the past, this would have been done off of anecdotal information, but now, it is supported by facts.

In large organizations, the number of associates that have intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act benefits can create a tracking nightmare, especially if the tracking is completed manually in-house. Utilizing the electronic system to initiate requests, track the necessary paperwork and generate reminders on key dates has ensured compliance with the federal regulations around this type of leave. Record retention and data separation requirements are also critical to implementation, making a company’s information technology (IT) security team a crucial partner in selecting, implementing and maintaining an electronic filing system.

IT security’s role

Although it seems simple in concept, involvement from the company’s IT security team when moving to an electronic filing system is critical in ensuring it has the proper security protocols in place. The only benefit of the old paper system described above was that the file room was locked and secured, and only those with keys could gain access. The IT security team will be able to aid in figuratively “locking” personnel information – ensuring that all of the private and confidential data is secure and cannot be breached. The team needs to be involved in the system’s integration, in addition to confirming it is operating without any issues.

Clients benefit the most

Although all of these benefits described above are good for each company or organization utilizing them, the most important element of the system is the increased quality and compliance it creates for clients.

In the old paper system, when a client needed to perform a compliance audit or test, because companies are typically held to the same hiring standards that they practice, the company’s HR team would have to manually pull all of the personnel files that were randomly selected and cross their fingers and hope that something was not misfiled or missing due to human error. Even if regular internal audits were performed, the company was only verifying the records in its samples.

With an electronic filing in place, companies can run queries on a predetermined schedule for all document types to ensure that there is nothing missing. Realizing that the query is only as good as the initial data load, a detailed audit on those records that are critical to our operation is necessary prior to uploading the information. This gives the company the confidence in knowing that all of the information is in place and easy to access the next time a client performs a compliance audit or test. It can ensure that all background checks, required personnel files and other important paperwork are on file and accessible – solidifying that it is compliant with client and regulatory requirements.

Installing an electronic filing system in the HR department frees up associates who will spend less time tracking down documents and more time focusing on adding value to the lines of business they support. It helps them shift their focus to developing training initiatives that ensure quality results from employees while staying ahead of clients’ needs. The implementation of this initiative has also given access to employee files and records to all HR associates, streamlining employee needs and requests.

HR managers will no longer lose sleep over compliance issues and can remain confident that they are keeping clients in compliance, as these rules and controls were built up front. Now their biggest concern is what they are going to do with all of the empty filing cabinets.

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of human capital for Safeguard Properties, the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. She can be reached at jennifer.anspach@safeguardproperties.com.

Source: Servicing Management (Moving Out Of The Stone Age [pdf])

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CHIEF 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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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.

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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, 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.

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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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AVP, Business Development

Tim Rath

Tim Rath is the AVP of business development 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.