Applies to: Managers of VDRs that use Q&A
I want to
- Use Q&A on my exchange
Overview, roles, categories and question limits
The question-and-answer process
If Q&A is enabled on your exchange, users can ask questions about documents or request a document that does not appear on the exchange. Your answers can provide context or other insights, helping users to extract maximum value from the documents. Intralinks VDRPro provides comprehensive question- and-answer functionality to make this process as efficient as possible.
One or more members of a buyer/participant group can be assigned the question submitter role. Only these people can submit questions. Other members of the buyer/participant group can only propose questions, which submitters must then review and submit.
When a question is submitted, it is directed to a Q&A coordinator in your organization. The organization can have one or more coordinators. If the coordinator is able to answer the question, he or she can respond directly to the submitter. If the coordinator is unable to answer the question, the coordinator can submit the questions to a group of experts within your organization known as a collaboration group. For security purposes, no identifying information about the question submitter or the submitter’s team is made available to the experts. In addition, the coordinator can edit the submitter’s question to remove sensitive information or to clarify the question.
In some organizations, there may be SME coordinators in addition to Q&A coordinators. SME coordinators act as liaisons between the Q&A coordinator and subject matter experts, managing the distribution of questions to the experts who can best answer them, and sending the experts’ responses back to the Q&A coordinator. SME coordinators are optional, but they can be useful in cases where the Q&A coordinator is an external M&A advisor and may not be well-acquainted with the experts in the seller organization.
When an expert answers a question, it is returned to the Q&A coordinator, who can review and edit the answer before forwarding it to the submitter (buyer/participant group). However, if the Q&A coordinator has additional questions or comments about the expert’s response, the coordinator can return the answer to the expert for clarification. The Q&A coordinator and the expert can respond to one another until the coordinator is satisfied that the question is answered.
When all parties are satisfied that the question has been answered, the coordinator can close the question, preventing further follow ups.
Q&A Coordinator role
When setting up Q&A, you must make at least one exchange manager a Q&A coordinator. The coordinator manages the Q&A process and is responsible for answering questions or delegating questions to experts. Q&A coordinators cannot belong to any collaboration group.
Any user with the Manager Plus exchange role who does not belong to a collaboration group can be made a Q&A coordinator. In addition, if the limited Q&A coordinator role is enabled on the exchange, you also can make users with the Reviewer Plus exchange role limited Q&A coordinators; these users will have fewer capabilities than managers as Q&A coordinators. If the Reviewer Plus exchange role is not enabled for the exchange, contact Intralinks Customer Service.
In addition, the SME coordinator can perform only basic question management tasks on behalf of the Q&A coordinator. For more information, see "Allowing experts to re-delegate questions" later in this article.
The limited Q&A coordinator role
M&A advisors who act as Q&A coordinators and exchange managers can assign their clients a limited Q&A coordinator role to delegate some authority to them without giving them managerial access to the exchange. The limited Q&A coordinator role also provides greater visibility into the clients’ deals than the expert role provides.
Use the Enable Limited Q&A Coordinator role exchange setting to enable the limited Q&A coordinator role. When this setting is enabled, users with the Reviewer Plus role can be assigned the Q&A coordinator role as a limited Q&A coordinator. Once this exchange setting has been enabled, it cannot be disabled.
Exchange members with the limited Q&A coordinator role can answer and delegate questions; they also can block and unblock new questions being submitted. They cannot perform the following tasks:
- Create documents and folders
- Update user permissions
- Select buyers/participants to be question submitters for their buyer/participant group
- Add, update or remove users from the exchange
- Add, update or delete groups
- Add or remove exchange members from groups
- Set question limits
These tasks must be performed by a Q&A coordinator with the Manager Plus exchange role. (Some tasks can be performed by a user with a manager-level or publisher-level exchange role.)
Q&A categories provide a convenient way to identify and filter questions. The categories assigned to questions by the question submitters help the coordinator to determine how to delegate each question. Category information is also used to create the Category Activity Report, which graphically displays the buyer/participant groups that are most actively asking questions, and the categories that are most frequently used. Only Q&A coordinators are allowed to create, edit or delete Q&A categories.
In addition, you can automatically delegate all the questions that are assigned a particular category. This can be useful if you do not have expertise in a particular area and will always delegate questions about that area to appropriate experts. This process is referred to as auto delegation. For information on how to make members “experts,” see "Adding experts to collaboration groups" later in this article.
Be aware, though, that you do not have the ability to review automatically delegated questions and there is a risk that experts may view information that they should not see.
Important Note! When using auto delegation, information that identifies the question submitter is removed before a question is delegated; however, it is possible for submitters to include identifying information that should not be seen by the subject matter experts in their questions. Because you cannot review automatically delegated questions before they are sent to experts, there is a risk that buyers/participants might reveal information that your experts should not see. If you are concerned about this, do not automatically delegate questions. Note that regardless of whether you manually or automatically submit questions, as a Q&A coordinator, you can always review the experts’ responses before you provide answers to buyers/participants.
In each buyer/participant group, you can designate one or more members to be a question submitter. If no question submitter is identified for a buyer/participant group, that group will not be able to ask questions.
Question submitters manage the Q&A process for their groups. Group members send their questions to the submitters who review them and decide whether to submit them. If the group is allowed only a limited number of questions, the submitter may decide not to submit some of the questions. For questions that are submitted, the submitter works with the Q&A coordinator to ensure the question is answered satisfactorily. The submitter may submit one or more follow up questions asking for additional information or clarification. It is the submitter’s responsibility to communicate answers back to their buyer/participant group.
Although Intralinks VDRPro’s Q&A functionality streamlines the question-and- answer process, handling questions can require considerable time from coordinators and experts. To keep the process manageable and prevent buyer/participant groups from asking an inordinate number of questions, you can limit the number of questions each group is allowed to ask.
You can set limits for some groups, but not others, or allow particular groups to ask more, or fewer, questions. You also can specify the number of high priority questions each buyer/participant group can ask. High priority questions (which also count against the total limit) allow buyers/participants to indicate which questions are most important to them, and they allow you to focus your attention on the answers that will be most important to the buyers/participants. You can set limits by day, week or month, if you like; each buyer/participant group can ask only the number of questions they are allowed for the selected period. When a new day, week or month starts, their question limits are reset.
Question submitters and Q&A coordinators can change a question’s priority until the question is closed or withdrawn.
You can set question limits when you configure Q&A using the setup wizard. If you use quick settings to configure Q&A, the limits are automatically set. You can change question limits at any time by updating the Q&A configuration.
Setting up Q&A
Q&A must be enabled by an Intralinks employee. Contact your Customer Success Manager if you want to begin using Q&A. If the Q&A tab appears in your exchange, Q&A has been enabled already.
Setting up Q&A using quick settings
If Q&A has not been configured on your exchange and is enabled, you can set up Q&A using quick setup. On the Q&A tab, click Use Quick Settings to automatically set up Q&A. It is set up with the following configuration:
- Everyone with the Manager Plus role is also a Q&A coordinator. They can answer questions, delegate questions and manage the entire Q&A process.
- All questions are assigned to the General category. You can create additional categories as needed.
- All members of buyer/participant groups can submit questions. To designate a single point of contact for each group, change the members’ privileges.
- Each buyer/participant group can submit up to 10 questions. You can change the limits for all groups or for specific groups.
You can change the default settings at any time by clicking Settings in the upper right corner of the screen, and selecting Q&A Configuration.
Setting up Q&A using the setup wizard
After Q&A functionality is enabled for an exchange, the first time you open the Q&A tab on the exchange, you will be asked if you want to set up Q&A. You have two options:
- Use quick setup and use predefined settings
- Use the setup wizard to make your own entries. You will be guided through the process step by step
Whichever option you choose, you can always make changes to your Q&A setup later by clicking Settings in the upper right corner of the screen, and selecting Q&A Configuration.
If you want to use quick setup, see "Setting up Q&A using quick settings".
The Q&A setup wizard guides you through selecting Q&A coordinators, creating categories and assigning them to experts, selecting question submitters for each buyer/participant group, and setting question limits for buyer/participant groups.
- Click the Q&A tab.
- Click Start Setup.
If Q&A setup has been started, but not completed, click Continue Setup to finishing setting up Q&A.
- Designate Q&A coordinators. Only users with the Manager Plus or Reviewer Plus roles who are not members of collaboration groups can be Q&A coordinators. Only users with those roles are displayed.
- Click the checkbox in the Q&A Coordinator column for the users you want to make Q&A coordinators.
- If you want one of the users you made a Q&A coordinator to finish setting up Q&A, click Save. If you want to complete the process yourself, click Save & Continue.
- Add Q&A categories.
- Click Create Category.
- In the Category Name field, enter a meaningful name.
- (Optional.) To automatically forward these questions to the appropriate experts, select one or more collaboration groups in the Auto-delegate to Groups field.
- To require the groups to reply to the question, in the Turnaround Time (Days) field, enter the number of days within which a reply must be made.
- (Optional.) Click Add Another Category to add additional categories. Click the trashcan icon the delete a category.
- Click Add.
- Click Save & Continue.
- Select question submitters.
- Click the checkbox in the Submitter column of the users you want to be able to submit questions.
- (Optional.) To allow all group members to propose questions to the submitter, click All buyer/participant group members can propose questions to the submitter.
- (Optional.) To allow group members or submitters to attach documents to questions, click either All buyer/participant group members can attach documents to questions or Submitters can attach their own documents to questions.
- Click Save & Continue.
- Set question limits.
- If you want to allow unlimited questions, click No Limits and go to step 7. To set the same limits for all buyer/participant groups, click Use the same limits for all buyers/participants. To set limits for each buyer/participant group, click Set limits for each buyer/participant group.
- In the Question Limit field, enter the maximum number of questions that can be asked.
- In the Limit Type field, select the time frame in which the maximum number of questions can be asked. The options are:
All time - After the maximum number of questions have been asked, buyers cannot ask additional questions.
Daily - The question limit applies between midnight and 11:59PM GMT.
Weekly - The question limit applies Monday through Sunday GMT.
Monthly - The question limit applies from the first day of the month to the last day of the month GMT.
No limit - Buyers can ask an unlimited number of questions.
- In the High Priority Limit field, enter the maximum number of urgent questions that can be asked.
High-priority questions count against the total question limit. For example, if you set a question limit of 50 and a high priority limit of 10 for a particular group, the group will be able to ask a total of 50 questions, 10 of which can be high priority. High priority questions must be less than or equal to the total limit.
- Click Finish.
Making changes to the Q&A configuration
- Click Settings in the upper right corner of the screen, and then select Q&A Configuration.
- Make the necessary changes to the configuration.
- Click Save Changes.
Adding experts to collaboration groups
Experts, sometimes referred to as subject matter experts, are people within the organization who can answer questions that the Q&A coordinator may not be able to answer.
Q&A coordinators use collaboration groups to communicate with these experts. We recommend that you create a separate collaboration group for each type of expert who will be asked to provide answers to questions (for example, members of the legal team or European operations). Consider how the experts will work together when identifying the members of each collaboration group.
For information about creating a collaboration group and adding experts to your exchange, see Adding a group to an exchange.
Typically experts are given the Reviewer exchange role to prevent them from being able to see the buyer/participant groups and the people within them.
- From the Users and Groups view, locate and click on the name of the person you want to assign to a collaboration group.
- From the Action menu, select Properties, then click Groups. The list of groups the person is currently in (if any) is displayed.
- Click Assign to Groups. The Assign to Groups panel slides out.
- Select the collaboration group(s) you want to assign the person to, then click Assign.
Allowing experts to re-delegate questions
SME coordinators are subject matter experts who assist the Q&A coordinator in delegating questions and managing responses from experts.
Any expert group can act as SME coordinators. If SME delegation is enabled, any group that the Q&A coordinator delegates a question to will be the SME coordinators for that question, and will be able to re-delegate the question to other expert groups. Questions can be delegated to SME coordinators either by the Q&A coordinator or through automatic delegation. (Questions can be automatically delegated based on the Q&A category selected for them. For more information, see "Making changes to the Q&A configuration" previous in this article.)
Important! For an expert to act as an SME coordinator, he or she must be a member of both the expert group to which the question is originally delegated and the expert group to which the question is re-delegated. When you set up your expert groups, be sure the people you have selected to be SME coordinators are added to all the expert groups to which they might delegate questions.
Questions that have been re-delegated by the SME coordinator cannot be delegated again by the expert group that received the re-delegated question. The SME coordinator who re-delegates a question can set a new due date for the expert group that will receive the question. However, if the Q&A coordinator assigned a due date, the SME coordinator cannot change it. The SME coordinator also cannot retract a delegation made by the Q&A coordinator or another SME coordinator group.
SME coordinators are allowed to manage questions on behalf of the Q&A coordinator. They cannot perform other Q&A management tasks such as creating and deleting Q&A categories or reviewing Q&A reports; these tasks are reserved for the Q&A coordinator.
- From the Settings menu in the upper right corner of the screen, then select Exchange Settings from the menu that appears.
- In the Advanced Settings section, select Modules.
- If the Enable automatic delegation to subject matter experts exchange setting is not marked, mark it. (This setting appears beneath the Enable Questions and Answers (Q&A) setting.)
- Click the Apply Changes button at the top of the screen.