In your experience, what are least efficient processes that many companies still rely on today?
Toungue firmly in cheek - Accounts Payable Processes.
These processes are horribly inefficient from the perspective of the parties waiting to be paid, but for some reason the CFOs seem to be happy with them ;-)
By far: Any processes that suffer from yet another new set of compliancy or regulatory rules. I have never seen (in my entire career) so many spreadsheet driven workarounds as with these. I have actually written a blog a couple of weeks ago where I use this as example and refer to this. Unfortunately still in Dutch, but included the link anyway below.
So, basically the inefficiency sits more in dealing with the focus (e.g., compliancy, ERP implementation, new business model...) on a specific process then what the actual process is about in the first place.
Financial industry, everything associated with buying and selling a house - mortgage lending, loan underwriting, title insurance, escrow. They're still doing it the way they did forty years ago. Ever lost your mind trying to get to a closing table at the eleventh hour buying or selling a house? Waaay too much dependency on human decisioning that is largely arbitrary. These people know what they need in advance and when, yet every closing goes down to the wire.
There are some processes that are inefficient, but are tricky to improve (complex, politics, costly system implications) strong ROI.
But the unacceptable cases are where the process is inefficient, is used a lot, has a big impact - and can be fixed easily. In a word "onboarding";
onboarding empoyees, onboarding partners, onboarding customers.
I know this sounds like a cop-out (and I suppose it is), but... nearly all of them. Being in this business, and then going day to day watching how various organizations operate: it's like having perfect pitch and listening to an orchestra that's anywhere from very slightly to wildly out of tune. Hard to watch without intervening.
(Now that you mention it, while I don't have perfect pitch, I did recently sit through a production of Les Miz in London that... well, a story for another day perhaps.)
Still, efficiency isn't necessarily the golden ring of business process. In many case (most, I'd venture), the key metric is user experience. As it turns out, folks who are really good at designing efficient processes aren't always good at designing great user experiences, and vice versa. An application with great UX/CX can be successful even if it doesn't always follow the most efficient path.
Some great insights on inefficient processes. But why should any processes be inefficient?
The existence of inefficient processes suggests the limits of management rationalism. Islands of tacit resistance are found in the nooks and crannies and even entire departments of enterprise and government service.
There are business cases. But apparently they haven't been proposed or successful yet. If markets are efficient, inefficiencies would be exposed and replaced.
So where are the sales evangelists to build momentum for change? Where are the management sponsors who understand the power of BPM and BRM and automation? Why should sub-optimal equilibria persist? Maybe there's a need for some "deep prospecting" . . .
The most inefficiënt can be many, but i like to mention the Project Management area in a lot of companies, where everything seems to be managed as unique one-off activities, with a big waste factor, and actually a lot in that can be managed as a process. (Yes you know them, those big IT hobbyhorse projects, with a compelling (read non achievable) business case. And not to forget the collateral damage related to scope and expectations.
I know it is hard, but when it is difficult, do it more often, make it repeatable, become good at it, and scale it when it becomes easy.