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In 2016 I had the honor and pleasure of being interviewed for an article about drones in the PM Network magazine from PMI – the Project Management Institute. Their December 2016 issue has an article “Help From Above.”  You can find it on Pages 44-49 on their online version here:

PMI Network drone article Dec2016

Since then, as I observe and work with more organizations who are starting to use drones in their operations, I’ve become even more convinced that we need more project managers to get involved in the drone revolution.  Here are three reasons:

1. Companies need someone who can serve as the integrator and systems thinker for drones.

Drones involve much more than the technology. There are regulations, certifications, quality standards, new procedures, and new stakeholders.  Somebody needs to be thinking about all of those things as well as accountable for the cost, schedule, and technical output of these drones.  That responsibility is perfect (and highly relevant) for a dedicated project manager.

2. Drones represent a tremendous career growth opportunity for project managers.

Companies will probably start with one drone. But as they expand their operations, they will need someone to oversee and coordinate this new category of systems.  Engineering consulting companies like CGRS already have a dedicated UAS division (Unmanned Aerial Systems).  As you would expect – they have somebody in charge of this growing operation.  Someone with a project management skill set is perfect for this combination of strategic and tactical planning and execution.

3. Current project managers can bring business-savvy, customer relevance, and mission focus to drone enthusiasts

Let’s face it. A lot of people and companies are rushing into the drone scene because it has a lot of hype and excitement around it.  Some companies are buying drones before they know who will use them and how they will get used!  I hope that doesn’t describe you.  (If it does, please keep reading.)  A project manager already working in a company will keep the drone enthusiast on track and on task.  A strong project manager will help people plan properly and focus on specific tasks in a plan that has clear ROI (Return On Investment) for the organization. Also very important – a project manager brings a healthy RISK MANAGEMENT perspective to the organization. Think SAFETY, LIABILITY, PRIVACY, SECURITY, and INSURANCE!

There are a lot of companies leaping prematurely into the drone revolution.  There are also a lot of companies and leaders waiting to make a move – watching to see how (or if) this new technology is going to prove itself. 

In my humble (or not-so-humble) opinion, I believe both of these approaches are big mistakes.  A dedicated and talented project manager will help a company balance these two extremes with methodical planning and goal-oriented action. 

Not having a project manager as part of their drone program is one of the 4 biggest mistakes with drones companies are making now.  To learn what the other 3 mistakes are (and what to do about them), please click below to get a complimentary copy of my presentation file. 

4 biggest mistakes with drones presentation

May 2017 be the year for your successful integration of drones into your projects!  If I can help you in any way with that I’ll be happy to hear from you.

If the above link is no longer working, please contact me on Linkedin.

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Brett Hoffstadt is a Project Management Professional (PMP) with a love for doing projects that make a unique difference. One of those projects could be helping you achieve success with your project!

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