Drone Business Case Template Part 1

The following is an excerpt from “Making a Successful Business Case for Drone Technology,” a whitepaper that provides guidance for developing a business case that articulates the problems with the current situation and demonstrates the benefits of drone technology. Download the full whitepaper to learn how to develop your own business case for drones.


Now that you’ve answered four basic questions about adopting drone technology and established a strong business case for using drones, the next step is to craft a compelling presentation. Whether writing a document or creating a presentation, your business case should include these sections:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Problem
  3. Solution
  4. Objective, Goals, and KPIs
  5. Financial Analysis
  6. Intangible Value
  7. Governance
  8. Recommendation

Your plan can be a document or presentation used in conjunction with a spreadsheet that contains the financial analysis. Keep in mind this is only a guide; your company may have its own template, and/or you may choose to reorder these to fit your audience.

In this post, we will examine parts 1-4, from the Executive Summary to analyzing Objectives and KPIs. Next time, we’ll look at Financial Analysis, Intangible Value, Governance and Recommendation. 

Executive Summary 

The executive summary is typically the first section of the business case and the last one you write. As a short high-level summary of the entire business case, it succinctly conveys vital information about the project and sums up the story for readers. Why should they care about the case’s contents? What will be their key takeaways? Tell them what you’re going to tell them.


This section clearly introduces the business case and project. It should briefly summarize challenges with the current situation—where the pain is and why it’s there—to identify the opportunities.

Conduct a gap analysis by establishing criteria for an effective solution and then comparing the existing process/solution against that. Your “gaps” are points at which the existing solution falls short of the ideal. (Use this opportunity to establish criteria that you’ll use again when substantiating your final recommendation.)






16 reportable incidents this year


“Effectively zero” risk of injury or death

Hourly cost of data collection


- $1,400


Data-time-to-value (time-to-action) 

3 days

69 hours

3 hours

Per-day-per-worker labor hours on routine inspection

3 hours

2.5 hours

.5 hour


Your problem statement is the premise to your argument for change. To strengthen that argument, report the “costs of the status quo.” (Use what you learned in your gap analysis.) For example:

  • Human costs related to safety incidents
  • Lost revenue resulting from suboptimal asset utilization and downtime
  • The cost of catastrophic failure that could have been mitigated by preventative maintenance
  • Delays in field operations related to overly-long data collection and analysis processes
  • Waste associated with using labor for repetitive, low-value work

Objectives, Goals, and KPIs

This section explains the drone project’s purpose, outcomes, and success measures. The business objective answers questions like, What are you trying to achieve? Why and how will the solution overcome the problem? How does the project support business strategies and goals?  Topics to cover include:

  • Cost reduction
  • Process efficiency
  • Improved data and inventory accuracy
  • Safety

In fact, there are myriad levers for deriving value from a drone program. Some of these value drivers offer direct benefits, which can be immediately realized by using drones to replace or augment existing data collection and processing systems. For example, drones are less expensive than manned aircraft. Also, drones enable field workers to observe hazardous areas from a remote location, reducing their overall hazardous manhours. Other value drivers enable you to realize indirect benefits, or ways in which improvements in data breadth, depth, precision, and volume--facilitated by drone-based aerial intelligence--can be applied to drive business value. For example,  asset condition data is the foundation of effective preventative maintenance; therefore, better data enables technicians to improve maintenance and reduce asset downtime.

For example, if you want to use drones for well pad inspections or storm damage assessments, then you’ll want to describe how the process is improved from inspection to work order creation. This isn’t just about time savings but also about the information fidelity and accuracy improvements that drones bring and how that supports company goals. 

One word of caution: If you are proposing to outsource data services or analytics, be careful about how you describe their performance standard. Your vendor is your partner, and you don’t want to trap them into a service level agreement that is impossible for them to attain.

The same is true for safety.  Your business case should describe how drones contribute to your company’s safety goals by reducing the risks of things like working at heights, coming into contact with electrical wires, and even helicopter crashes. For more on this, see our paper on The Economics of Using Drones for BVLOS Inspections.




Identify potential solutions to the problem and describe them in enough detail to clarify their value. For instance, if the business case and proposed solution uses 3D modeling for machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and change detection, then explain how that technology is used and the outcomes of using it. You may want to define technical terms in a glossary. Since most problems have multiple solutions, you may also include an option appraisal that explores multiple potential solutions and recommends the best option.

This section should also define the scope and benefits of the solution in terms of people, processes, and technologies.  For example, if you are proposing drones be used for asset inspections in place of current manned aircraft or ground-based manual inspections, then describe the value in terms of how automation prevents manual data hand-offs and misidentifications. Talk about how integrated data sets can leverage better analytics and AI to uncover hidden savings. 

This section should include your proposed implementation schedule and a fairly detailed analysis of costs, which may include:

    • Infrastructure to manage the end-to-end process
    • Implementation service providers 
    • Training resources
    • Moving people into new roles and/or hiring
    • Technical service providers to maintain scale
    • Data and data management providers

Also, as you are describing and quantifying the solution, describe it in terms of the drone data value chain, which includes data capture, processing, analysis, delivery, and usage.  Each of these has a cost and benefit that should be quantified.

This section is also where you outline the risks that you uncovered in your risk assessment.

Download our white paperMaking a Successful Business Case for Drone Technologyto access an exhaustive list of value drivers and read more about the business case template.