Smartsheet: Multiple Contact Selection is Here. NOW WHAT?

The Gist

At ENGAGE 2018, Smartsheet released a feature that has been long requested and much demanded on the Community Posts and I assume elsewhere.

Assigning Multiple People to a Task

I won’t go into my opinions on it1. There is no time to waste. Really.

It is here and what should you do about it?

Stop

First, whether you are giddy, anxious, or something else, stop. Do not dive right in and start making changes. If you do, there is a good change you will regret it. This has been on the most requested / most commented thread since 2015. There’s time.

(Yes, I said there is not time to waste. I meant to get this post out)

Impact of the Change

A few key takeaways from this release

  • CONTACT_LIST columns do not allow multiple selections. MULTI_CONTACT_LIST do. 

That means that ANY Report that is using a CONTACT_LIST needs to be fixed to look at the new column – even though the only thing that changed was (to the casual observer) a checkbox.

If you have a Report that pulls in a CONTACT_LIST from 100 Sheets and ONE of those Sheet’s column is changed to the new column type, it won’t return the same results as before.

Solution #1: Change all affected CONTACT_LIST columns in all Sheets to the new column type,

or

Solution #2: Add the second column to the Report,

or

some combination of the two.

Any change YOU make might impact a Report you aren’t shared to. I’m sure your colleagues will be pleased when you start making your changes.

  • Formulas that reference a CONTACT_LIST column may now be returning an incorrect value.

I reported some of the problems in the Community here. Those aren’t the only ones.

Some quick examples where formulas may be referencing the CONTACT_LIST

– sales won by salesperson

=COUNTIFS([Sales Person]:[Sales Person],”Alexa Nashkoff”, [Sales Status]:[Sales Status], “Won”)

– hours on completed project tasks for the year by engineer

=SUMIFS([Effort-Hours]:[Effort-Hours],[Assigned To]:[Assigned To], @cell = [Assigned To]@row, [% Complete]:[% Complete], 1)

and so on.

Some of those formulas need to be tweaked, and at the very least verified.

If the formula is incorrect then Reports will be incorrect then Dashboards will be incorrect and someone may make the wrong decision and then what are you going to do!?

Think

The change needs to be selective. That is nearly always true. This change certainly is not an exception.

Do you know how many Sheets you have?

Do you know how many of those Sheets have CONTACT_LIST columns and which ones?

Do you know how many Reports are in your account (not just the ones you have access to)?

Do you know which Sheets have formulas that use that CONTACT_LIST column?

Do you know which Sheets are referenced in one or more  X-Sheet References?

Do you use Templates? Do those need to be updated too?

I’d suggest thinking about those and probably others.

Plan and Act

Once you have thought about it, changes can be made.

Final Thoughts and the Pitch

Life will go on after this change. The road from <<here>> to <<after>> will be easier if you make sure your change won’t mess something up.

If and when I make this change, I won’t be changing everything, but some people might. It might even be a good idea (after the bugs are worked out) to move ALL of the CONTACT_LIST columns to MULTI_CONTACT_LIST types. That remains to be seen.

My personal account has 740 sheets. I know how many of those have one or more CONTACT_LIST columns (that are not System Columns). I can determine which Reports are using those CONTACT_LIST columns. I can do something other things too that will speed the process of knowing AND implementing the changes.

Some things (like updating Reports) will need to be done manually, but I’ve narrowed down the list from 600+ Reports that are shared to me to about 25 that I’ll need to worry about … if and when I make this change.

And I can do it faster than you can.

Contact me at craig.williams@ronin-global.com, craig.williams@smarterbusinessprocesses.com, or contact Richard at SBP: richardr@smarterbusinessprocesses.com. We can help. I guarantee it.


  1. Of which there are many and strong ones at that.

 

 

Comments

Mike Wilday

Nicely put and great advice. Good luck. I am planning on playing around with reports and this multi-contact feature but, wow. I do foresee this messing a lot of reports up when they start adding multiple contacts to a single column. *groan*.

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