Action blocks: Specify what kind of automation is triggered

Applies to

Smartsheet
  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise

With an action block, you can choose what type of automation you want your workflow to perform when triggered. 

Read on to know how to set up a workflow.

Set up a workflow action

When you add an action block, you’ll choose which type of action you’d like to use. If you want to change the action you selected, in the upper-right corner of the block, select the Menu icon.

There are four types of workflow, and each type has different action types for it. Use the following tables as references for the workflow action types. 

Notification action types

Use this type of alert or action In this situation Example(s)
Alert someone
  • Alert people about key changes in specific fields, or when they’re assigned to a new task
  • Know when fields are set to a specific value 
You created a workflow to receive alerts when a Status field is set to Blocked.
Alert a Microsoft Teams channel
  • Send field or sheet-row updates to a Microsoft Teams channel
You created a workflow to send alerts to your team’s Microsoft Teams channel when a new form entry is added to your sheet. 
Alert a Slack channel
  • Send field or sheet-row updates to a Slack channel 
You created a workflow to send alerts to your team’s Slack channel when a task is tagged as Urgent.

Update and approval requests action types

Use this type of alert or action In this situation Example(s)
Request an update
  • Ask for information about a work item from the task owner when that item is past the deadline and isn’t marked as complete yet
  • Seek the latest information from a work item’s assignee once a value changes in a specific field 
Your manager created a workflow to request the task assignees to update the Start Date column when the status on a row changes to In Progress.
Request an approval
  • Ask a reviewer or a manager to review and approve a work item when a field meets a certain criteria

You created a workflow to ask the content reviewer to approve or decline the draft when a draft is tagged as Complete

The marketing team created a workflow to ask the finance team to review, and approve or decline the request when a work item’s cost exceeds the projected amount. 
 

Sheet changes action types

Use this type of alert or action In this situation Example(s)
Assign people Assign one or more persons to a work item when a date is reached or when a row is added or changed. You created a workflow to assign tasks to the escalation team when a work item is tagged as Urgent.
Change cell value Change data in these columns when certain conditions are met:
  • Text/Number 
  • Dropdown (Single Select)
  • Dropdown (Multi Select) 
  • Checkbox
You set the sheet to select the Complete checkbox column when a user sets the Approval Status column to Approved.  
Record a date Record the current date in your chosen field when a workflow is triggered. You set the sheet to record the current date when a task is marked as Complete.
Clear cell value Remove the contents in a field when certain conditions are met. You created a workflow to help you remove contents.
Lock rows Prevent further edits after an item has been approved or completed, or a particular point in time. You set the sheet to lock a row when the value in the Review Status column is set to In progress.
Unlock rows Allow users to edit rows only when prerequisite steps are completed. You set the sheet to unlock a row when the value in the Review Status column is set to Complete.

Sheet-to-sheet workflows action types

Use this type of alert or action

In this situation

Example(s)
Move rows
  • Move a row to another sheet when it is marked as Complete
  • Route automatically incoming work items to different sheets based on characteristics 
The e-learning team created a workflow to remove requests that shouldn’t be on their team’s intake sheet. If they receive requests for the marketing team, the workflow will move the task to that department’s intake sheet.
Copy rows Create a copy of a row in another sheet when a field meets a certain criteria.  You have a sheet where all the completed tasks are recorded. To reduce manual work, you created a workflow to copy rows to that sheet when rows in your parent file are tagged as Complete.


To prevent infinite approval loops, cells which contain cross-sheet formulas or cell links won’t trigger an automation which automatically changes the sheet (Move Row, Copy Row, Lock Row, Unlock Row, Approval Request). To work around this, use time-based automation or recurrence workflows.

Select your recipients

Configure the action block to ensure alerts and requests are sent to people who are involved with a specific work item. You can configure them to be sent out to:

  • People in a contact field for that row (for example: the assignee)
  • Everyone shared to the sheet
  • People you manually specify
  • Members of a channel in a third-party app such as Slack or Microsoft Teams

When you don’t receive the alerts you set up for yourself

Your sheet notifications might be off. To fix this, turn on the notifications for sheet changes. Not sure how to do it? Read the Trigger Automated Workflows on the Changes You Make article.

Modify field visibility and create a custom message

You can customize the alert message so the recipients will get only the information they need to know. In the Customize message section, you can control which fields appear, and edit the subject and message. 

Want to know more about how to customize your alert messages? Check out the Customize the Content of Your Alerts and Requests article.