Using Process Builder to Decompose Multi-Select Picklists

Here’s my question of the day: Can I use process builder to decompose Salesforce multi-select picklists?

I understand why multi-select picklists are popular. Even with the clunky Salesforce data entry UI, they provide data entry efficiency. They also integrate nicely with GetFeedback survey responses. I want to keep that relative efficiency while getting workable reporting.

So, my idea is to use process builder to blow the multi select picklists out into a series of checkbox fields suppressed in the data entry layout so I can report on them as I wish.


Summary Functions Grew My Brain

Aha, here’s just what I need! Hands on Training: Compare Report Groupings with Summary Functions. Explaining the PrevGroupVal is for comparisons across time and ParentGroupVal is for Comparison of contribution(s) to the whole. I’m feeling smarter already!

What got me into the rabbit-hole

I wanted to compare percentage change between our members dues payment last year and their dues payment this year. In many cases, this amount stays pretty flat. But in cases where the percentage change is greater than 7% that’s of interest.  Double digit percentage increase is super interesting. It says that an organization’s grant-making maybe trending upwards. My big dream is to be able to report member dues percentage change as a table of member metrics on a membership dashboard. My Lightning Experience Dream (TM) is to use this as on viewing each member account. While I’m not yet there, I see the road ahead.

What I’ve learned falling into the rabbit hole

  1. PrevGroupVal is for comparisons across time and ParentGroupVal is for Comparison of contribution(s) to the whole.
  2. Using Summary Functions is really powerful but pretty nuanced. You’ll want to set aside ample time for the journey.
  3. Summary Functions perform groupings “on the fly,” so in someways they can be limited for those of us whose reporting is not really standard sales reporting
  4. Point 3 notwithstanding, they are a great way for you to validate whether a certain flavor of data is worth investing time and rollup fields to have more granular filtering available and more visualization flexibility.
  5. It’s super important to check your math. No really, check it again. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes here. And a lot of ways to screw up your calculations, so take the time to show yourself that those formulas are actually working as intended.
  6. Aha, one late breaking bit of info. While I couldn’t get what I wanted in a dashboard metric component, I did get using a table component with conditional highlighting. I think I’m getting to where I may understand the metric dashboard component and how I might deploy it. But I find the Salesforce documentation and discussions of the component too terse and over-simplified to the point of being misleading.

So what formula did I spend all this time and energy on?percent change

And here’s where I ended up after creating some rolup fields and moving the calculation to a custom formula field.

formulaAnd here’s the table in a dashboard with conditional formatting applied.%change

Salesforce Data Visualization Ideas

The most important thing to know is what the Business Users most need to grok at a glance. For Membership, Development and Consulting its where we are in terms of revenue.

  • What’s been booked
  • What the $ goal is
  • Are we on track to reach our goal
  • What’s the pipeline health

The data visualizations should:

  • Be clear and understandable at a glance
  • Have clear criteria reflected in a good title
  • Have a clear time frame  reflected in a good title


  • Current Membership Campaign
  • Membership Campaign Performance year over year
  • Current Development Campaigns
  • Consulting Revenue and Pipeline


Salesforce allows the assignment of colors to values for picklist values only. Look to see what you can leverage here. Method used: systematic survey of key picklist field types. Note what looks promising. Then survey non-picklist fields for ideas of what you want to include in dashboards to consider pushing into picklists via workflow rules or process builder.

You may want to sketch these out to see if they might be promising before investing the time in creating custom fields and workflow rules/process builder processes.

I experimented with creating an Opportunity Year picklist field and used workflow rules to populate past year historical opportunity data. I have an ongoing Process Builder process handling opportunity data going forward. This took about 4 hours of work including running Demand Tools to Mass Impact update my Mass-Update__c field with a date to edit the records of interest in order to bulk update them. I have now transitioned over to useing Opportunity_Year__c in place of my bucket field for Membership year. My years now have consistent color assignments in dashboards.





Upgrading to Salesforce NPSP3 – Primary Affiliation

Here I am thinking about how to best leverage NSPS3’s new primary affiliation checkbox for a Salesforce instance. I believe I should start with Philanthropy Northwest’s funder accounts and batch update their staff using Demand Tools Mass Update.

I’m working on a full sandbox so if this goes all sideways, I should still be ok.

I am not using the full on household functionality, but I do have affinity groups and committees that funder members belong to as “non-primary affiliations.”