Applies to

  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise

Blocks and Paths: Anatomy of an Automated Workflow


  • Smartsheet
  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise

Building an automated workflow is similar to building a flowchart. You’ll place triggers, conditions, and actions together from a start block to one or more end blocks.

In the workflow builder:

  1. Select the Add button Add button  
  2. Choose what you want to add (condition, condition path, action). 

To conceptualize automation, think about workflows through the following framework: when a change triggers the workflow, if the row meets the conditions you set, then do the action specified.

See the table below for details on what these elements do.

Element Use for
Trigger block The specified date and time, recurrence configuration, or activities in the sheet that set the automated workflow into motion. 
Condition block Used to filter which rows are included in workflow actions on the same path
Action block The type of automation (alert, approval, request, and more) that you want to take place as a result of the trigger and preceding conditions. Details on the different types of automation available can be found here.
Condition path A line that connects blocks to depict different routes that your workflow may take depending on the conditions you set. Your workflow may have a single path from trigger to action or it may have several paths to indicate different actions based on preceding conditions.

Automated Workflow Best Practices

Keep the following in mind as you set up your workflow:

  • Type a name for your workflow in the upper-left corner of the workflow builder
  • Make sure to Save your workflow (click save in the lower-right corner) after set up or after any changes. You can come back and make further changes to your workflow at any time.
  • Each sheet can have up to 150 workflows. 
  • Each workflow can have up to 100 blocks. This includes the Trigger, Condition, and Action blocks.
  • Each workflow can have up to 30 Action blocks.
  • Condition blocks can have up to 20 condition statements (20 lines within the block). 
  • Attachment links included in Automated Workflow emails expire after 14 days.
  • Set your trigger to take place an hour before the action should take place. This will ensure that technical issues don't prevent the action from taking place on time.
  • To prevent infinite approval loops, cells containing cross-sheet formulas or cell links will not trigger automation which automatically changes the sheet (Move Row, Copy Row, Lock Row, Unlock Row, Approval Request, Record a Date, Assign People, Change Cell, Clear Cell). To work around this, consider using time-based automation or recurrence workflows. 
  • The more active workflows you have on a sheet, the slower the workflows will be. To improve performance, combine workflows that should be triggered together and deactivate older workflows that are no longer needed.
  • Unlike formulas, workflows take a few seconds to process. Emails, update/approval requests, move row automations on large sheets, and older workflows that haven't been recently modified may take a few minutes to complete.
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