The Formula is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with a comprehensive suite of services that cater specifically to the complex, compartmentalized architecture of today's ISO, according to David McMackin, Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Calif.-based company. The cloud-based, software-as-a-service program is primarily designed for small and midsize ISOs for whom proprietary ERP systems are cost-prohibitive, McMackin said.
McMackin noted that the product he spent years developing with his brother, The Formula President Mike McMackin, is painstakingly modeled for the business ecosystem of an ISO, targeting every aspect of an ISO's workflow while lubricating the broader network. As opposed to a generic ERP that's marketed to companies of all kinds, The Formula is specifically mapped to modern ISOs – particularly smaller companies which, unlike typical super ISOs, lack the capital required to build, install and oversee proprietary systems, McMackin stated.
"The Formula is definitely tailored to the payment processing industry, designed to address all the pain points that ISOs normally experience," McMackin said. "There are other programs that offer parts and pieces, but this addresses everything – from operations to sales, through customer service, marketing, product development and management – through all the different parts. This is for small and medium ISOs that don't have millions to spend on technology. We deliver everything they need for pennies on the dollar."
According to McMackin, The Formula contains a unique combination of attributes that makes it unlike any other ERP product on the market. For one, it is the only publicly sold ERP system that's both comprehensive and purpose-built for ISOs.
McMackin explained that the technology is tailored to the industry, as opposed to ERP providers that don't target an ISO-specific organizational workflow. "So, for example, when ISOs need to complete their applications to board new merchants and connect them with the front-end processor, we provide tools so that the workflow is already in place," he said. "It doesn't need to be drawn up from scratch. All the information, all the communications and stipulations [of the contract] the ISO needs to bring into the field is ready to go, so the boarding can be done as quickly as possible with our paperless office."
McMackin also pointed out that The Formula is the only ISO-specific product on the market designed with the complete corporate ecosystem in view, helping with not only department-specific tasks, but also with the inter-departmental network – an area in which ISOs are commonly bogged down by fragmentation. "Unlike a typical ERP, it also has a sales engine piece, so it's sales and management," he noted.
McMackin also believes that for small and midsize ISOs, The Formula generally represents the only affordable way to obtain a completely comprehensive corporate management suite. He said smaller ISOs that use enterprise management software typically purchase either generic customer relationship management applications, or else one or more ISO-specific programs that focus only on a particular pain point, for example, merchant boarding, and neglect the broader ecosystem. ISOs that pursue the latter course often buy different types of software from different brands, accentuating the silo effect of department-specific technology, he added.
To have anything near a comprehensive system would require buying, at a soaring cost, numerous products from multiple vendors; even then, the aggregate system would experience the disjointedness of parts not built for interconnectivity, but as stand-alone products, McMackin noted. "When you have departments siloed inside the ISO because they lack [connective] technology, it takes time to pass information across the channels," he said, adding that in place of a seamless process of sharing new information, bottlenecks end up blocking that flow.
"You can't search on the Internet today and find a product like [The Formula] that's so tailored to the industry," McMackin said. "You can form parts and pieces, but they don't talk to each other unless you pay to integrate them all. And it would be a nightmare for an ISO to take all these parts and pieces and integrate them into a single system … and it would take forever. … The bottom line is ISOs either use manual processes or they have to spend considerable money for something they have to make work for them."
Numerous enmeshed benefits form the foundation of The Formula's architecture, McMackin noted. Chief among them is a single, company-wide database that contains real-time updates of information passing through the corporate ecosystem. These include customer service queries, troubleshooting, input from company managers, virtual employee training tools and new product information. The database functions as a hub for communication between specific parties, as well as a platform for the broader dissemination of information across departments.
Such real-time, interdepartmental communication is crucial to maintaining a well-oiled management machine, McMackin said. He added that it streamlines the workflow, including updates on customer service inquiries, merchant accounts, residual payments and corporate accounting information, among other things.
"If you're an ISO and you just transmitted an application to me, you'd like my back-office people to work on that in minutes or hours, not days or weeks," he said. "Allowing that quick and continuous workflow is important – days cost accounts."
A key part of ISO workflow is "escalation" to make sure problems or issues are referred to the right people as quickly as possible, McMackin said. Thus, when a call comes in, all the information pertaining to that call is logged into the cross-departmental database, and when the customer service department needs help with a call, the department best equipped to handle it can immediately take it on. And rather than having the caller repeat what he or she has already told the first customer service rep, that information is already available, on the company database, to whomever the call is transferred, McMackin added.
"This platform allows people across the organization to access the same information, in real time, in one single portal," McMackin said. "The escalation process is very simple: a manager can escalate something, when it's finished, to the next [phase]. Or, for a customer service representative taking a question – every rep may not be able to answer every question – quick escalation is imperative to making sure questions are answered in a timely manner.
"This is an example of unifying the departments, so one hand knows what the other is doing," McMackin said. "So customer service management reporting sees that everything is taken care of – that equipment is being deployed and that merchants are being turned online to the entire life cycle of a product. … It's just a matter of having the right tools in front of the right person, in real time at the right time."
McMackin added that among ISOs using The Formula's tools, many customer service calls are handled immediately, without need to escalate. Since all employees are privy to the specific tools they need via the company's system, relevant information entered by other departments is at their fingertips.
Similarly, The Formula is designed to simplify the dissemination of all company-wide updates such as information on new product releases, virtual training seminars and marketing updates. "With materials that the sales force changes, it's beautiful having those changes built into the management system instead of having your marketing people running around explaining it to everybody," McMackin said. Other benefits include automated system upgrades, activities logs, referrals and lead tracking, and websites for prospective employee recruitment.
Users can also receive customized reports, with limitless drill-down possibilities. Typically, The Formula generates reports to monitor the sales pipeline, product popularity, employee sales performance, merchant sales and attrition, merchant trends, employee recruitment, and marketing trends based on current materials. Reports can also zero in on new market demands for upgrades and employee sales training, among other things.
The Formula is a permission-based system, according to McMackin. He said that, while it offers a company-wide database, companies can segment designated types of data to limit their availability to certain parties.
"A lot of companies are stuck if they don't add new technology, if they don't grow up," McMackin said. "But until now there was nothing like this that was tailored to our industry. Imagine you've got 1,000 clients and are already looking at, 'How do I ramp up my employee force to provide service to these 1,000 clients?' But you're also faced with the question of, 'How do I want to grow?' This tool gives you the ability to scale your portfolio without worrying whether it's going to break the backside of your business."
Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.