I have two lists with an identical column and am trying to get update the parent when the child is changed. ** Before you tell me to simply use a lookup, it is a choice column which cannot be used in a lookup **

The workflow I created is not working and in fact, not even being recognized by the list at all. It's not erroring, it's not stopping, it's just NOT running at all. There isn't even a status column I can see when I try to modify the view. Just to make sure, I double checked that it was associated to the correct list and it is.

My workflow is set on the child list and intended to update the parent named "Master":

Set Variable:UpdateParent (string) to Current Item:ALC (string) then Update item in Master Tasks - Field:ALC - Variable:UpdateParent

Field ID Value: Current Item:TaskParentID

So essentially, it SHOULD be capturing the child's column status, setting it to the "UpdateParent" variable then going to the Master list and updating the same named column with what was set in the variable. And finding that list item using the IDs.

More Info - each column has 4 drop-down options.

I had this working at one point and I cant remember what I did to make it work. I am lost all over again! Please help. Thanks!

  • I think I'd need a little more context before I could answer this. What is it you're actually trying to accomplish. Not the structure of the lists or the workflows, but what is all of this intended to do? Remember that with choice columns, there's more than just text. Each choice is formatted like #1;Choice1;#2;Choice2, etc. Sep 3, 2015 at 18:49
  • I am trying to change a field on the Master list when a column is changed on the child list. Both columns are identical, named ALC and have 4 drop down options.
    – Jackie
    Sep 3, 2015 at 19:26
  • No, I read your post. Your description of the function of the workflow and the contents of the list were clear enough. What is the purpose of this process? What business need is this supposed to fulfill? Sep 3, 2015 at 19:28
  • The purpose of this process to force a child item to update the parent item as it is changed. If you're asking what this is as a whole, i am not able to say. Client project. i just need help with the details of the workflow configuration. i suspect it has something to do with setting some of the items as a string?
    – Jackie
    Sep 3, 2015 at 19:45
  • Probably. The reason I'm asking the larger question---and I understand confidentiality, the folks I work for are draconian about it---is to see if there's another way to do what you're trying to do. I suspect that your problem is with the multi-choice column. I've always had issues using a workflow to take string values and use them to make multi-choice selections. Like I said, choices aren't stored in the way they're displayed. They're delimited by semi-colons, pound signs, and numbers. Sep 3, 2015 at 20:19

2 Answers 2


There is an option for your lookup on choice column solution as a workaround. In a few words, point is to create new calculated column at your child list, the list from where you need to take information. Calculated field should look on to your choice column. After this is done, create new lookup column at your parent list. Lookup should be on calculated column from child list.

Here is also link with similar description and with images http://bramnuyts.be/en/2011/04/05/using-a-lookup-field-on-a-choice-field-workaround/

EDIT: If you want to do it with workflow you can do it like this: Create workflow at your child list. Create workflow variable, String type. Copy information from choice column to your workflow variable. Next action of your workflow is Update list item. Choose your parent list, add column you need to update, and choose to copy information from workflow variable. Also, you need to pair list items at the bottom.

  • Hi Danilo, thanks for the info but i have already tried that workflow and for some reason its not working. As ive mentioned in my other previous posts, i think it has something to do with the column type. As for your other suggestion, it a good work around but not one that will work for this since both list columns need to remain as a drop down
    – Jackie
    Sep 4, 2015 at 15:31

I'm gonna move a comment I made to an answer, as I did a little testing on my environment and had similar results to what you're experiencing.

The problem is with how you're handling your choice fields. Choice fields display as a comma-delimited list of items but they're stored with an index number a semicolon, a hashtag and then the item. That's per choice. So, instead of Choice1, Choice2, Choice3, Choice 4, you actually have 1;#Choice1,2;#Choice2, etc.

I have always had a tough time translating string text to a selection in a choice column. Lots of coercion errors or just non-functioning actions.

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