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by Alicia Amerson
Project management skills are essential for successful drone flight planning and implementation.
How many of you are in drone businesses that really want to just fly the drone and not worry about the rest of the project components? As wonderful as this thought is, project management is an essential skill for conducting successful drone projects.
I spent over 12 years as a project manager working on environmental remediation projects and the skills I learned have helped my conservation research projects and my drone flight planning. I have also seen how the Triple Constraints cause managers to take short-cuts that might have heavy impacts to the quality of a deliverable. In the case of a drone flight, shortcuts may cause serious harm to wildlife or the environment.
Triple Constraint: A framework for evaluating competing demands. Project managers often talk of a “triple constraint” – project scope, time, and cost – in managing competing project requirements. (PMI, 2004, p377).
The scope refers to content. It's easy to understand that the more content we are required to obtain by the client the more time and cost will be added to the project. I like to think of the triple constraint simple like making a bowl of ice cream. What do I need to do so that everyone STILL wants to eat the ice cream at the end. So what goes into it. You may also think of your drone photos or maps as that yummy delicious media that people are waiting to consume.
As with many of life's plans - it's the planning that takes place that allows us to imagine what the end product will look like, how it will feel, or how it will be experienced.
Drone flight planning is no different.
Here are a few tips to get you started developing an outline for Triple Constraints in your drone flight plans.
1. Scope -
Let's set aside a few minutes to contemplate what the content is for most of your projects.
- Write down typical client goals for a project.
- Now write down your flight operational goals. Will you include reducing wildlife impacts or adding environmental protocols to your operations?
- What type of product will you deliver to the client?
- Are there specific features that you need to focus on to accomplish the goals?
- What specific tasks are you typically responsible for in your drone flight plans?
- Is your current project under tight deadlines or costs that might impact your ability to decrease wildlife disturbance?
2. Time -
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the most highly recognized certification program in the world. Most certified project managers refer to their PMI. Under the PMI there are 7 processes to successful time management. You can take each one and dissect it for your drone flight operations. If you do, you'll know exactly how much time to charge your client if you work on time based projects. Let's say a client books you for half day or 2 hours. You can define your operational steps and put a specific time to each step. If you want to dive deeper here's a great article!
3. Cost -
Once you have your scope defined, identified activities, and set a time or schedule you're now ready to cost each step. By taking the time to go through the steps above you'll be able to make certain that each activity you complete will include your environmental costs and the correct values for protect wildlife when you fly. If you have to make time to get an extra permit to protect wildlife or take a class to reduce disturbance, those should be included in your time and costs. When you are working with this part of the project process, it is important that you understand your clients budget upfront. Before you take on a project you should have a fully disclosed conversation on the scope (deliverables and goals), time, and budget. You should also indicate your commitment to environmentally friendly drone flights, not to "green-wash" your client but to make certain that you've clearly made a commitment to the culture of flying responsibly and respecting wildlife.
There are many ways you can envision or use the triple constraint for your business. Some project managers like to use a value triple constraint or a management triple constraint, where the variables are changed. Mainly you need to use what works best for your business. Outlining your goals with resources, time, and costs are components of all drone jobs. When one of these areas are under a constraint this may have severe impacts on wildlife and not allow you to conduct the most environmentally conscious operations.
What are some ways you can work with your clients or employees to reduce the impacts of the triple constraints on your drone flight operations?
I've enjoyed writing a little bit different blog post related to drone businesses. I think it's time to go enjoy some ice cream before it melts.
Before I do, It would be great if you would do two things!
1. Take the Alimosphere Drone Stewardship Pledge
2. Sign up for our STRIVE Plan - drone planning for wildlife