Kuali Protocols — various feature enhancements.

Aaron Uyehara
5 min readJun 12, 2022

Single IRB, Action Items, Advanced Filtering, Ancillary Reviews, Custom Notifications, and many more.

Various product screenshots for Kuali IRB software




February — June 2020

My role

I was the Lead product designer for this product.

Things I did

I helped with business strategy, design thinking, user research, including user interviews, wireframing, prototyping, user testing, visual design, delivery, and ongoing customer meetings.

Project Summary

In January of 2020, My product team moved from our primary focus on identity services to help save a deal Kuali had made with the University of California San Diego. Kuali had sold Kuali Protocols to UCSD. After auditing the Protocols software UCSD realized that there were a lot of feature gaps. UCSD did not want to purchase protocols and Kuali really needed to make this deal happen.

I flew into San Diego to meet with the research UCSD team along with Kaci Foster Kuali’s General Manager and Jason Madsen head of Engineering. We met with UCSD counterparts for 3 days hashing out a way to save this deal. After each meeting with met and brainstormed and strategized.

We came to a consensus that if we were able to deliver some major features relatively soon while continuing to work on medium and lower priority features with a goal to close the feature gap UCSD would become our customer.

The challenge

  • The Challenge that we had was we needed to deliver lots of features in a short amount of time.
  • Making sure that we could not just deliver features, but features that were user-friendly and validated as real needs.
  • We had very upset potential customers.
  • A small team of developers, 1 product manager, and 1 designer to solve and get these features built.
  • Very little time to ramp up and understand the domain. A domain that was complex. And had a lot of different personas and use cases to consider.


Understanding the customer needs

We first met with UCSD admins to listen to their needs. After coming up with a list of major priority features that they agreed upon. We outlined a roadmap and scope of delivery of these features. We then outlined parking lot items of medium and low-priority features that would also need to be done

We asked them for a list of end-users that we could meet with for discovery purposes.

After receiving. The list of end-users and admins. We went to work doing user interviews.

User interviews. We conducted many interviews in order to understand what users and their roles were, what they did, and what the pain points we needed to solve.

I prioritized my work and quickly got to work designing solutions and then meeting with customers and end-users trying to iterate and validate as quickly as possible. Rinse and repeat.

I was fortunate to have a wicked smart dev lead to help clarify some technical challenges and also the processes as he understood them.

I met daily with the rest of my immediate dev team and my product manager to collaborate and get input.

We worked hard to get things built and released through continuous delivery.

Single IRB Management

A Single IRB (sIRB) is the IRB-of-Record, selected on a study-by-study basis, which provides the ethical review for all sites participating in a multi-site, collaborative human subjects study. Common Rule agencies/funding sponsors (e.g., NIH) require an sIRB for domestic multi-site, collaborative studies.

Ancillary Review management screen for Kuali IRB

Ancillary Review Management

Reviews of human research projects by compliance groups or individuals and happen in addition to the IRB review. These reviews vary, depending on the grant requirements and type of research performed, and may be required by federal or state regulations, IRB policy, or institutional requirements.

Advanced filtering screen for Kuali Protocols

Advanced Filtering

A robust way to filter by adding conditional logic in hopes to find the desired outcomes and data that a user needs.

key features

  • Ability to filter by conditionals
  • Manage columns
  • Save filters
Action Items draw helps users have context in to the document.

Action Items

The ability for reviewers, admin, and meeting committees to help researchers be compliant. Giving the owner of the document directions on how they can better complete their protocol.

key features

  • Action item creation
  • Ability to assign visibility
  • Delete or resolve an action item
  • A̶b̶i̶l̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶r̶e̶p̶l̶y̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶h̶a̶s̶ ̶m̶a̶d̶e̶.̶


Ultimately UCSD was happy with the progress that we had made. They signed a huge deal with us which made Kuali leadership extremely happy. We had gained a great logo and increased our revenue as a company.

Personally, I grew from this experience, I feel like I learned how to balance my priorities. I learned a lot about the research domain. I was rewarded by having a seat on the research leadership team and gained the trust of both Kuali and UCSD leadership.

I really enjoyed working with this group of developers. We worked hard and there is a type of bond that people develop when they go through such an accomplishment and experience.

The next steps

were to continue to improve the features that were delivered and to work on medium and low-priority items.

I think we did a great job with delivering value quickly to the product. However, I do feel like development cut corners and often times delivered less than my ideal design solution with the hopes of coming back to add those features.

For example. I designed a way to have a conversation within the action items feature. This is something that I heard was a needed feature that would alleviate a lot of emails and personal meetings between users.

Unfortunately, my PM and 90% of my developers left Kuali for other opportunities. I had to help ramp up a new junior PM on the product. We later discovered that Users were still needing this capability but has not been prioritized.



Aaron Uyehara

Just another kid from the L A I E. Product Design Leader | Co-Founder |