Untold Innovation: A few minutes with Frank McNally
By: Dani Clark
This year at Untold Content, we’re focusing on stories of Untold Innovation. As a firm committed to innovation storytelling from thought leaders across organizations and sectors, we have embarked on a journey to uncover stories of innovative thinking that are galvanizing change and growth in four main industries: tech, medical, science and human impact. This first quarter, we’re focused on the tech sector. We asked you to nominate thought leaders in your field who are driving innovation, and you delivered!
This month, we’re sharing the story of Frank McNally, Director of Learning & Content Development for the Public Spend Forum. His work with GovShop, a free government search engine, is connective–making it easier for buyers and suppliers to find each other. Prior to this accessible research tool, cutting-edge tech companies may not have considered the government a viable market. Perhaps like many organizations new to government procurement, these tech companies found the search process for government opportunities time-consuming and complicated. With these challenges in mind and trailblazing tech in hand, McNally’s team is building clear, searchable pathways to government procurement.
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy these next few minutes of our interview with Innovator of the Month, Frank McNally.
Frank McNally’s Innovation Story
Frank is the Public Spend Forum’s Director of Learning & Content Development. He delivers strategy for learning that incorporates self-directed learning paths and specializes in federal government procurement.
UC: What is your field of speciality?
FM: I specialize in the procurement of public sector technology. It is not easy for government organizations to buy technology for myriad reasons. The procurement process is a primary challenge. Governments have tighter restrictions on what and how they can buy, which in turn limits the field of possible contractors and vendors that are willing and able to provide the requisite services. As a result, governments are not always able to take advantage of the best the private sector has to offer.
UC: Where does your personal and/or organizational innovation story begin?
FM: In October 2013, Healthcare.gov launched in an infamous way. While it was eventually salvaged by an influx of civic technologists, it really highlighted how far behind the curve GovTech is, and especially underlined the procurement challenges. From that point on, I became very interested in learning where the procurement barriers existed and studying how I could improve or alleviate those barriers.
UC: What impact has your innovation had on your organization or the field at large?
FM: Currently, at Public Spend Forum we are building GovShop, a free, browser-based search engine that helps connect buyers and suppliers in the public sector. It is a neat piece of technology, and we are building it with the same agile best practices we encourage our partners in government contracting to use. As a result, we are making it easier for buyers to find the best technology partners, and inversely helping those technology companies (many of whom may have previously not considered government as a viable market) be found by their ideal buyers.
UC: What one piece of advice would you give to future innovators?
VM: Don’t be afraid to do something great. That sounds like a cliche, but it takes courage to build new technology. It takes significant time and energy, but the underlying challenges of change management can derail projects before they start. Even if you don’t know how to code, you can still create functional requirements that describe the outcomes of the technology product you want to deliver. These are the most important elements, to be honest. With the prevalence of open source technologies and the lowering costs of technology development resulting from reusable code, it’s actually quite easy to hire and develop the actual technology. But what people often ignore is how the technology will help people. Instead of focusing on what your tech should do, focus on how it will help people. If you aren’t familiar with how user stories are created, this is a great place to start your innovation journey!
Thanks for reading Frank’s innovation story. You can read more about our Untold Innovation Stories series in our Untold Innovation Stories kickoff post.