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What are "Cosmetic Edits" in an RFP Questionnaire?

Posted in RFP Creation and Design, last updated on Dec. 10, 2020

Questions in an RFP questionnaire can be edited online. For a new question, editing can involve adding new fields or changing any text. This type of editing is referred to as "Structural Editing" - these are edits which change the meaning of the question.

When an RFP is published (Status: Draft->Live), respondents are granted access to the questionnaire and may save answers to questions. For this reason it is no longer possible to make "Structural" edits to questions in a Live project.

There is a second editing mode for PostRFP questions - "Cosmetic" editing. In this mode, fields cannot be added or removed from questions. The only changes permitted are changes to the text of the question. This is to permit correcting a spelling error, for example.

N.B. It is essential that Cosmetic Edits are just that - cosmetic. It is possible to change the meaning of a question by changing the text, e.g.:

"Please provide your annual revenue figures for 2011" can be changed to "Please provide annual revenue figures for 2012"

This is a change to the meaning of the question. If vendors had already answered the questions in it's first form, their answers will now be invalid.

Shared Questions

There is a second situation in which Cosmetic Edit mode applies. This is where the same RFP questions are re-used between different RFP projects, i.e. a questionnaire was created by importing questions from a previous project. In such cases, the actual questions are shared, not copied between projects.

Once a question is shared between different projects, changes made in one project may affect other projects. To prevent unintended consequences, PostRFP warns the user when they edit a shared question. By default, it is only possible to make cosmetic edits to shared questions. For cases where it is necessary to make more significant edits to a question, PostRFP provides the option to make a fresh copy of the question. After copying, the question exists only in the current project, and any changes (structural edits) are permitted.

Background - Answer Importing & Efficient Analysis

The reason for the distinction between "Cosmetic" vs "Structural" edits, and for shared questions in general, is to support the ability for Respondents (vendors) to copy their answers between different RFPs. This is for cases where similar RFPs are being re-issued to the same vendors. Instead of having to manually re-enter the same answers, PostRFP enables vendors to import their answers from previous RFPs. When they do so, any scores associated with the previous answers are imported in the background.

This ability to import answers, thus eliminating duplicated analysis and scoring, can provide huge efficiencies in some industries. This is only possible because questions are shared between different RFPs. To preserve the integrity of these shared questions it is necessary to enforce these tight controls around editing questions.

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