Improve Claims By Effectively Using Visuals in Narratives

A student once raised the point to me that graphics and other visuals can be effectively used to enhance a claim document and I have to agree with him on this point, provided that some basic rules are followed.

While some people see and understand things better through pictures, others prefer the written word.  I have to admit that I am one of the latter in this respect. When presented with a claim which consists almost entirely of charts, tables and other graphical representations, I have simply not been able to understand it, because there have not been any written explanations of the graphics. This is something to do with the left and right sides of the brain and one will be stronger than the other in most people.

Unfortunately, we seldom know what type of brain the people who will eventually read our claim will have, so it is definitely a good idea to appeal to both types. What is absolutely vital for the success of a claim is that the respondent is able to understand the contents fully and that the claim leads them ‘by the hand’ to the conclusion that you wish them to reach.

So, how can we effectively use graphics and visuals?

First, remember that visuals should only be included in addition to the narrative to illustrate the point being made.

Images can be embedded in the text to better explain a point. For example, a fragnet may be included to demonstrate how a delay has been built up for inclusion in the delay analysis. Obviously, the fragnet would also need to be included in the delay analysis programme that would be included as an appendix, but a snapshot of the fragnet would be useful in the narrative itself and will make the reader’s job easier by not obliging them to refer to the full delay analysis programme at this point.

However, when including a graphical illustration such as a fragnet, never assume that the reader will be able to understand it. You must explain, in a step-by-step manner, how it has been created and what it means, so we are appealing to both left- and right- brain dominant people.

Here is an example of how a drawing extract can be embedded in a narrative to illustrate a variation:

  1. The Contract design provides that the telephone and CCTV distribution networks were to be laid in two separate cable ducts along different routes.
  2. During the engineering phase of the project, the Contractor was verbally advised that the Employer wished to change the design so that the telephone and CCTV ducts would be laid within the same trench in a common route. 

 

Drawing showing revised telephone and CCTV arrangements.

The above tells the ‘story’, much better than words alone.

The use of tables can also be an effective way of providing information that can be easily digested. Take a look at the following example:

“Appendix E herein includes a time impact programme which is based upon the updated programme of 12 January 2016, into which the additional works have been added as follows:

Activity

DaysStart

Finish

Procurement & Delivery of Partitions & Suspended ceilings (actual)6812/01/1620/03/16
2nd Floor Office Area Fit-Out
Joinery 1st Fix (duration as baseline for 1st floor)512/01/1616/01/16
MEP 1st Fix, IT and Telephone (duration as baseline for 1st floor)1417/01/1630/01/16
Plastering (duration as baseline for 1st floor)2831/01/1627/02/16
Floor Screeding (duration as baseline for 1st floor)728/02/1605/03/16
Partitions (actual delivery date)2620/03/1614/04/16
MEP 2nd Fix, IT and Telephone (duration as baseline for 1st floor)1210/04/1621/04/16
Joinery 2nd Fix (duration as baseline for 1st floor)422/04/1625/04/16
Ceramic flooring (duration as baseline for 1st floor)1426/04/1609/05/16
Suspended Ceiling (duration as baseline for 1st floor)710/05/1616/05/16
MEP Final Fix, IT and Telephone (duration as baseline for 1st floor)715/05/1623/05/16
Painting (duration as baseline for 1st floor)724/05/1630/05/16
Carpeting (duration as baseline for 1st floor)331/05/1602/06/16

Additional work, time impact details”

The above concisely illustrates the build-up of additional works that have been included in a delay analysis for an extension of time claim. If a graphic of the programmed activates were also included to show the above in ‘picture’ format, this would be even more effective.

So, the next time you’re writing a claim narrative, think about the points you are trying to make and consider whether they could be enhanced through visual representation; it could lead to a much more effective claim.

This blog was written by ICCP Executive Officer and Fellow, Andy Hewitt. If you would like to learn more about claims, check out our training partner, Claims Class.

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