468: A Cross-Functional Black Belt | Justin Spencer, CFO, Vocera Communications

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A Cross-Functional Black Belt

Vocera Communications CFO Justin Spencer’s strategic-finance breakthrough had little to do with corporate finance and everything to do with the drivers of strategic success. In an earlier CFO role, the tech executive heard just about every ERP horror story there is – sordid scope creep, sketchy implementation firms, unending projects, the organization's brutal rejection of IT-driven initiatives, and more – as he prepared to lead a massive Oracle upgrade. To side-step those nightmarish outcomes, he designed a unique approach. Spencer enlisted the company’s best project manager as the full-time project leader, invested in a rigorous screening process to hire an elite implementation partner, set aside ample budget for unexpected contingencies, seeded the project team with A-players (priming them with performance incentives), and sucessfully branded the endeavor as a C-level mandate. The painstaking upfront work paid off handsomely as the project was completed on time and within budget while swiftly generating higher-than-expected productivity-related returns. “Most strategic work is now conducted through large, cross-functional projects,” Spencer notes. “That experience taught me how to influence and lead on a cross-functional b

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