Determining Workflow trigger criteria

Sean Richards
edited 02/19/21 in Smartsheet Basics

Hi, I asked a question but from the reply I received I think I asked it the wrong way so I am trying again.

I am new at automating in SmartSheet so forgive the simple question: I created a Workflow which is a reminder email that needs to go out to several people 3 days prior to a Finish date if not 100% completed. The conditions part of this workflow is straightforward, but I am unsure how to SEE what I have done.

  1. What I don't see anywhere is how I know what the automation workflow is using as the actual trigger. Sure I can set Finish Date, but of what row? Do I need to have that Finish Date cell/field highlighted when I edit the workflow? The whole row? What is the process to ensure the Finish Date I require in Row xx is the trigger?
  2. I know there are many ways to automate things, but in my scenario can I only use the workflow once in this instance, to trigger just the one field in a Row? If I need to do this type of trigger on numerous Finish Dates, do I need to duplicate for each instance?
  3. Finally, but related, I am not seeing anywhere in the Workflow editor what the trigger actually is, so is the only way I am able to track what fields I am using as trigger (or what rows), the titles I am giving it? I would expect a bit more information in the summary of the workflow so I know what I have linked it to, that's all. If I am missing something let me know.



  • Kelly Moore
    Kelly Moore ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Hey @Sean Richards

    Workflows are automated events that happen when a row meets the conditions that you have set for the automation. If you build an automation and if only one row will ever meet the criterial that you set, then only that one row will be triggered. However, in general, different rows will meet that criteria - which is why you probably built the automation in the first place.

    If you haven't seen this already, here is some information:

    For example

    You set your trigger either date based or when data in columns changes/or added. It sounds like you are setting a date based reminder automation.

    In my example, I am not setting the automation for a specific row. I am setting the automation to run when specific conditions are met. This automation is set to run once-per row that meets the criteria- as designated by the setting immediately below the blue colored Trigger line. I could set the automation to run weekly, daily, etc, and again, rows that meet that criteria would have automation use the data contained in those rows meeting the criteria. Thus, in my example, the automation is checking the Due Date column where the Due Date is in the next 14d, and %complete is not 100%. When a row meets that condition, whomever on that row is supposed to receive a notice will receive the notice. You can see what the criteria is by looking at what columns and conditions the automation is set up with.

    If you give the community a specific workflow you want created and a screenshot of your sheet (or mock up if the actual contains sensitive data) we can help you create a workflow that may help better explain how a workflow operates.

    Ask more questions to help me better understand what I didn't explain well, and I'll try again. Please continue to keep asking until you're clear - the community is here to answer your questions. Please keep asking.


    If interested, here are just a few of the recent questions from others regarding automation.

  • Sean Richards

    This is all information I know, but thanks. I just find it odd that I’ve asked the question two different ways and always get the same unhelpful answer.

    My investigation leads me to the conclusion that these conditional criteria will always use the whole column and not a specific cell for these types of automations. If I have let’s say hundreds of rows, this automation works with every single one of them, when I wanted to define just one (or a few) to behave this way. I am surprised by this since it’s the defining feature all xy type data management programs.

    So, disappointing to find this but now I understand the limitations I found that the workaround is to add an additional column which is a check box, and add ‘checked’ as an additional condition. Then only the rows I want to follow this automation will. It’s just a drag as it’s an additional step that the user needs to do, and leads to possible errors.

    Oh well, SmartSheet is still better than it used to be, and def better than Asana, so I’ll keep using it for now. Thx