Steps to scaling your reality capture drone program

June 13, 2024

Let's be honest, getting eyes on a jobsite from every angle is a game-changer. Drones aren’t just toys anymore, and 360 photos can be more than just a pretty picture.

These tools bring a powerful strategic advantage, plain and simple. But scaling up that capability? That's where things get interesting.

Scaling a reality capture program isn't just about adding more drones or cameras – it's about transforming how your entire company sees and interacts with project sites. It's about streamlining workflows, catching costly mistakes before they become disasters, and proving the value of your efforts to the C-suite. 

In this blog, we’ll give you the guidance you need to get company-wide buy-in for reality capture, scaling up your single pilot program to a full company-wide effort.

VDC manager preparing a Mavic 3 Enterprise for flight


How to get executive buy-in for your reality capture program

Your company's reality capture program won't get off the ground without executive support. It's like trying to build a skyscraper on a shaky foundation.  You need those decision-makers on board to unlock the resources, budget, and – most importantly – the long-term commitment that will drive widespread adoption for your drone program.

We know what you're thinking:  "Easier said than done." And you're right. Getting the C-suite excited about drones and reality capture isn't always a walk in the park. But it's absolutely achievable, even if you're starting small.

detailed overlay of the structure of a building

The key is to speak their language. Don't just talk about fancy tech or cool aerial shots. Focus on the business value of drone data. We're talking about:

  • Cost savings: Think about the time and money saved by not having to send crews out for manual surveys or inspections.
  • Risk reduction: Drones can spot potential hazards and quality issues before they turn into costly problems.
  • Improved decision-making: Accurate, up-to-date site data gives your team the insights they need to make smarter, faster decisions.

Remember, executives are in the business of making money and managing risk. Show them how your drone program can do both, and you'll have their attention.

The takeaway? Don't be afraid to start small and prove the return on investment (roi). Capture compelling data, quantify the benefits, and present your findings in a way that resonates with executives.

Finding the right people

Scaling a drone program isn't a one-person show. You need a crew, a team of folks who get it, who are fired up about the potential of aerial data. And I'm not talking about just anyone – you need your power users.

Think about it: who in your company is already tinkering with drones on the weekend? Who's always asking questions about the latest tech? These folks are your secret weapon. They're the ones who'll go the extra mile, who'll master the software, and who'll become evangelists for your program.

Now, this isn't about age or job title. You might find your power users among project managers, field engineers, even the new intern with a knack for gadgets. Look for that spark, that genuine interest in the possibilities drones unlock.

VDC manager using a mavic 3E smart controller

Remember, this isn't a "one and done" deal. Keep your team engaged by giving them ownership and recognizing their contributions. Let them explore new use cases, try out new tools, and share their knowledge with others. Make it clear that they're an essential part of the team, and watch as their enthusiasm spreads throughout your organization.

Take it from senior construction technologist, Ben Stocker, Skender’s leader in developing their successful drone , "You absolutely need that person who's going to be enthusiastic to actually try it first."

So, find your drone enthusiasts, empower them, and the results will speak for themselves. 

Elevating your drone training program: Part 107, use cases and more

Alright, you've got executive buy-in and a team of fired-up enthusiasts. Now, is where training comes in – but it's gotta be more than just a PowerPoint presentation.

Think of your training program as a flight school for your drone team.  Just like pilots need to master the controls, your folks need to know how to safely and effectively operate drones, collect data, and – this is key – turn that data into actionable insights.

Make the training hands-on, engaging, and relevant to their roles. That means leaving behind the boring lectures and utilizing practical exercises, real-world case studies, and maybe even a little friendly competition (who can create the most accurate 3D model, anyone?).

But it doesn't stop there. Reality capture technology is always evolving, and so should your team's skills. Encourage continuous learning by offering refresher courses, bringing in outside experts, and staying up-to-date on the latest industry trends. 

And if you're looking to build a team of licensed drone pilots, make Part 107 training accessible and motivating. Remember, a well-trained team is a productive team – and that's something everyone can get behind.

One great resource to consider is DroneDeploy's Academy. Our free Part 107 training is a fantastic way to get your team up to speed on the legal and operational requirements for flying drones. They also offer a wealth of other training resources, covering everything from flight planning to data processing. 

By investing in training, you're not just upskilling your team, you're building a culture of continuous improvement that will benefit your entire organization.

Incentivizing success: rewards that drive reality capture adoption

We all know that the success of any initiative, especially a tech-driven one like drone and reality capture programs, hinges on the people behind it. Enthusiasm is great, but it needs a little nudge sometimes, a little something extra to get folks truly invested. That's where incentives come in.

Think of it like this: you're not just asking your team to learn a new skill, you're asking them to become pioneers in the company. So, why not reward them for it?  A bonus for passing the Part 107 exam, a shout-out in the company newsletter for the best drone data capture, maybe even a career path specifically for drone pilots – these are just a few ideas.

VDC manager taking a map of a construction site with a Mavic 3E

Remember, incentives aren't just about money (though that never hurts!). Recognition, career advancement opportunities, and even the chance to attend industry conferences can all be powerful motivators.

The bottom line? Tie those incentives to your company's goals and your team's success on real-world projects. Make it clear that mastering drone technology isn't just a personal achievement, it's a direct contribution to the company's bottom line.  That way, everyone wins.

If you're ready to take the next step, check out our free Part 107 training. It's the perfect way to get your team certified and ready to fly.

Want more tips on scaling up? Check out our recent Power Up Summit Session: 18 New Pilots in 24 Hours - Taking Your Reality Capture Program to the Next Level. Watch the session now on DroneDeploy Insider. 

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