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PORTFOLIO: Project 1

CMS Expenditures Submissions

Project Summary

This project is one module of several to redesign and modernize a 15-year old system that States use to submit their Budget and Expenditures to Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMCS). States will use the Expenditures module each quarter to report their Medicaid and Medicare Services costs and expenses.

Initial discovery has been completed and design and prototyping is underway. Below is information on the discovery process including user interviews, findings and recommendations, and research artifacts that resulted from discovery. UX design is now in progress. 

My Role


UX Designer


UX Process so Far


  • Contextual Interviews with users

  • Analyzing data obtained during contextual interviews to determine key findings

  • Sharing findings through presentations, reports, personas, and user journey maps

  • Brainstorming and designing conceptual models

  • Follow-up interviews with users to validate conceptual models and obtain additional data

  • Begin prototyping (now in progress)

Contextual Interviews

Contextual Interviews were planned and conducted with several State users who submit their Expenditures using the old application. Research goals included:

  • Learn about the current process adopted by States and/or Territories to prepare and submit their CMS expenditure packages

  • Understand the role the current application plays in states and/or territories and CMS workflow

  • Identify user needs, pain points, workarounds, and manual processes for improvements and opportunities in designing the new Expenditure module

Some of What We Learned


  • Data is keyed in manually using complicated spreadsheets involving over 100 tabs

    • User Quote: "It takes probably three to four solid days of keying into [the current system]. That's not just one person, my whole team gets in there."

  • It’s easy to make errors while keying; takes several days to input all data into [the current system]

  • Errors are time consuming to find and correct, and create more work for the State

  • Although there are numerous reports available within the system, not all reports are useful nor is it clear what information a report will produce.

    • User Quote: "There are a lot of reports in here that I'm slowly going through, painstakingly going through, and saying, well, what does that report give me? Well, it says this, but when I run it, it really only gives me this."

  • Variances between a State’s expenditures and their budget aren’t identified until after all data has been keyed in and submitted. This causes additional work for State users.

  • The list of forms available is extensive. They are not listed in any order nor can they search for forms or filter them in any way. They manually hunt for a form they need which is complicated because many forms share a similar name.

    • User Quote: "You can see how many forms there are, they're going all the way down the page. They’re in no particular order and there is no way to sort it. It drives you crazy."

Some UX Team Recommendations

A few recommendations and opportunities for improvement that the UX Team identified include:

  • Ability to upload data to reduce their workload and reduce errors

  • Add a search or sorting ability to make it easier to find forms.

  • Provide better details on what data each Report will provide; provide ability for users to create customized reports

  • Build-in features that prevent errors

  • Possible variances between a State’s Budget and Expenditures are flagged before the report is submitted

  • Retain ability to do manual entry for corrections and small modifications


Research Findings Artifacts

The UX team prepared artifacts to share findings with the project team, Stakeholders, and State users. I assisted with preparing all artifacts but was solely responsible for designing a Journey map for a State user. The journey map was shared with the team, stakeholders and with users during follow-up interviews. State users verified the steps in the journey or suggested tweaks if needed. Overall, it was very helpful to them. One user made this comment about it: “…this is a delightful document. I've seen a lot of similar documents with swim lanes, but this is really quite intuitive. It also sort of takes you on an adventure. It's very pleasingly done.”

Links to artifacts:

  1. User Journey Map

  2. User Persona (Note: Layout of persona designed by another UX Team member)

  3. PowerPoint of Research Findings

Creating Conceptual Models

The next step was to brainstorm and design conceptual models. The team prepared several screens that we then shared with users during follow-up interviews. Functionality depicted in the prototype addressed pain points noted in the initial contextual inquiries:

  • Ability to upload data via templates or do manual entry

    • User Quote: “If we have multiple forms and we can just upload those forms. Yes, definitely that would be very beneficial and would definitely help expedite the data entry process.”

  • Ability to easily find and select a specific form; improved sorting and presentation of Expenditure forms being submitted.

    • User Quote: “It looks good to me. If you can make it like this, that it has the filter and maybe an archive option. I think that's perfect for what we need.”


Designing and Prototyping


The UX team is currently designing prototypes in Figma for Stakeholders to review and development to begin. On-going user interviews will be conducted to obtain continuous user feedback.

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