Creating a drone program for your organization, while seemingly simple, is no easy task. When you dive into specifics, you’ll realize that you’re basically starting an aviation division in your company. Think about it: you’ll be flying an FAA-registered aircraft in government-regulated airspace with a Part 107-licensed pilot undertaking commercial missions. It’s highly similar to standard airline protocol.
Knowing this, it’s no wonder why so many organizations struggle to get their drone programs off the ground – to do so safely and legally is actually quite tricky. Consider these questions:
- What kind of hardware and software do you buy?
- Do you have insurance, registration, and airspace clearance?
- Where do you fly?
- Will you be flying over people or moving vehicles?
- How do you analyze missions? Are the results tangible?
For some companies, this is a years-long process.
At DroneDeploy, we’ve found there are six consistent components to a successful drone program, beginning with people and ending with drone operations management. It’s our goal to break down these difficult barriers to entry and deliver you the perfect combination of this list to increase your chances of success.
In this three-part series, we’ll uncover how to build a results-driven drone program from beginning to end, culminating in our complete drone program start-up guide. But first, let’s look at how to validate and launch your new drone program.
Gathering Research & Use Cases
Before doing anything else, ask yourself: what’s your “why?”
As we’ve seen in the past couple of years, drones are no longer used just for taking photos, and the most tangible benefits arise from having a clear reason as to what results you’re looking for. Assuming you’ve already garnered executive buy-in, gathering research into various site reality technologies and determining what hardware and software combinations work well for your goals is the next best step.
When thinking about this, we encourage you to brainstorm use cases and visualize where this technology can significantly impact your business. For DroneDeploy customers, the most common initial use cases we see are for enhancing visual documentation, improving project communication, and sharing various media. To further prompt idea generation, we recommend perusing our multi-industry customer success stories.
Trialing Capture and Evaluating the Results
After you’ve defined your critical drone program functions, it’s time to capture this data and evaluate your results. If you already have drone hobbyists or Part 107-certified pilots on-staff, these are perfect candidates for piloting your first few flights. If not, it may be easier to outsource your initial data capture.
At DroneDeploy, we offer tailored Flight Services, in which organizations can order drone flights on-demand through our verified network. Each pilot in our ecosystem is DroneDeploy-certified, with flights including automatic information uploading and processing into your DroneDeploy account within a few hours.
If using another software or hardware partner, there are a host of Drone Service Providers (DSPs) in your area that can provide similar services. Regardless of how you capture your data, evaluating your results and tweaking your specifications accordingly is key to a fruitful program. Plus, sharing your findings with multiple business areas – specifically safety and compliance – continues to facilitate interdepartmental collaboration and support.
Defining Your Program
If you’ve made it to this point: Congratulations! You’ve tackled the most challenging parts of creating your drone program.
Now, you can channel your newfound results into developing organization-wide standard operating procedures (SOPs). These SOPs give your program true validity and define it as an essential part of business operations. For assistance at this point, our Professional Services Team offers benchmarking exercises against industry-best practices to test your program’s weak points and solidify your drone operations management. Before training internal pilots or expanding your program’s reach, make sure to have these instances figured out.
In our next article, we’ll discuss scaling and automating your drone program to achieve larger ROI and enterprise-level communications. Until then, if you’d like to learn more about the ins and outs of starting your drone program, watch our on-demand Q&A with our Professional Services Team, or cut right to the chase, and contact us.