In people-intensive organisations, achieving maximum productivity from employees is one of the most important elements of controlling costs in the business. The focus is on optimising workflows, supported by the appropriate technology, to get the best out of each individual. Most companies attempt to improve and simplify all of their business processes, and various process automation tools have been around for years, however few have the time or money it takes to implement and use such tools.

The problem with many of the current process automation platforms is three-fold. Firstly, they are complex, generally requiring third-party implementation services, then there is the expense – not just the cost of the tools themselves, but the system integrators who are required to do the consulting, analysis, design and development. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, these approaches to process automation don’t involve people, largely because there is no link to the organisation’s communications systems.

Therefore, the solution to involving people directly in a process lies in communications-based process automation (CBPA). Put simply, this solution uses well-established communications notions as the foundation for process automation. If we look at contact centres as an example, this sector has leveraged concepts such as queuing, skills-based routing, recording and real-time supervision for decades to systematise the handling of millions of customer interactions across a number of different channels.

Like customer calls, business processes involve tasks that must be queued and intelligently routed to the right person and supervisors need to track what is going on and who is doing what, so why not apply these advanced technologies to process automation? CPBA involves taking a new approach towards process automation by extending the communications technology. Effectively an all-in-one communications platform complete with sophisticated contact centre technology becomes the process automation platform for the company.

One of the many benefits is accessibility, like all communication systems it can be instantly available anywhere, at any time for processing work. There are also major advantages from functions such as queuing, which can be used to provide the orderly delivery of process work to the right people in the business, in the same way that in a contact centre the calls are queued up for the next available agent.

Presence is another obvious factor. As an advanced IP communications system tracks the availability of every person in the company, the CPBA can make use of this presence information when deciding how to deliver process work and other features such as skills-based routing could be used to assign work to the most appropriate employee.

CPBA has the potential to provide a level of visibility into key business processes that has never been possible before, with capabilities such as real-time supervision and tracking and reporting can give managers an insight into every element of the task, from when it started, how long it took from end to end and whether service levels were met.

Today, businesses can also perform full end-to-end business automation in the cloud, from the process design to execution, and monitoring and tracking. The proven advantages of the cloud such as increased flexibility, faster deployment time, minimal capital expense and reduced IT requirements can also apply to business process automation. The key is to select a true all-in-one solution for the automation of key business processes, one that includes people, communications and content that works within the company’s existing environment.