Settlement Authorization Release System


2015 - 2017

In September 2015, I started my new job at the University of California, Office of the President. My second day on the job, I jumped into the deep end on a project redesigning a web application called SARS.

I had to learn both about this new project and also about how to navigate the stakeholders in this new organization. SARS helps people across the statewide UC system process liability claims efficiently.

My Role

I am the only designer involved in this project. I am responsible for all user research, interaction design, and visual design in this project. I work with a team of developers, business analysts, and QA testers on this project.

Understanding the Problem

The first thing I did in taking on this project was meet with stakeholders to understand the business needs of our clients and get them thinking about what success for this project looks like. I had meetings with the clients to understand SARS’s user population and the tasks they rely on SARS to complete. These meetings helped me craft the research plan I would use to uncover the issues users were having with the application.

What is SARS?

SARS is a web application that processes UC settlement releases by allowing stakeholders to authorize them and making the authorization process more transparent.

SARS = Settlement Authorization Release System

When someone has a legal dispute with the UC (e.g. they are injured on a UC campus), the university can come to a settlement agreement with them. The amount of money in the settlement must be approved by the proper channels within the university before it can be released to the plaintiff. SARS facilitates the approval process between campuses all across California and the Office of the President in Oakland, CA.

SAR documents must be authorized by several stakeholders both at the location of the dispute and the UC Office of the President in Oakland, CA. Authorizing stakeholders can range from risk managers to UC lawyers, to chancellors of the campuses.

SARS makes the approval process visible to the list of stakeholders who must authorize it grows and changes. It helps people understand who else needs to authorize a SAR so it can be approved.

I redesigned SARS to help employees across the entire UC system:

  1. Approve SAR documents more quickly
  2. Locate SAR documents in the approval process
  3. Help stakeholders communicate about the status of SARs

Alright, so BOOM. You hurt your toe at UC Riveside. You sue the University of California and come to a settlement. UC Riverside’s lawyers need to communicate with UCOP’s lawyers and risk department via a form called a SAR to get you your money. This app manages that communication so UC employees across California can approve the SAR and the SAR can route itself though the appropriate channels (e.g. A $10,000 settlment may only need a risk manager to approve it, while a $1,000,000 settlment needs to pass through the entire risk office, several lawyers, and even the chancellor of the university’s desk).

Skills Used

  • Research Planning
  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Research Synthesis
  • Report Writing and Presentation
  • Interaction Design and Prototyping
  • Visual Design
  • User Testing
Because I needed more information on the types of problems users were having with the current version of the application, I interviewed 7 SARS users and was able to complete contextual inquiries with the majority of them. From my interview notes, I created several work models and an affinity diagram.
A sample from the research findings report I delivered to the customers.

Old vs new gereral Design

Location Prototype Sequence

Built by KeVon Ticer (with CSS Grid) in the late 20-teens.