When creating a workflow to copy content from one list to another, do the columns have to be in the same format?

Background: I have already created a workflow to copy column information from one list to another, once the origination list entry is approved. Everything works fine, with the exception of one column. The columns in the originating list and destination list are the same, except for one exception. I have one column in the originating list using a lookup (from another list), and that same column needs to be set in a Text format, in the Destination list. I need this destination list column in a text format so it will be available as a lookup in an infopath form, for a 3rd list (where observation data will be collected).

When this one particular column was in the same format between the list (meaning the lookup in one list was also set up with the same look up in the other list) this column's content copied over with no issue. When both list were set up this way, this column's content would not show up as a lookup in the 3rd list used for data collection and needing this columns input as a selection.

In the current configuration, I have no problem manually copy and pasting the missing column data from the origination list to the destination list, even though the columns are not in same format (Lookup in origination list and text in destination list). Not sure why I cannot get the workflow to do that for me.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  • Are you using SharePoint Online or a particular on-prem version? Which workflow technology are you using? – willman Feb 24 '20 at 0:08
  • I am using an on-premise version. Currently using SharePoint farm 2019, but Infopath is 2013 and using 2010 workflow functionality. – Dewayne Feb 24 '20 at 17:28
  • Also using SharePoint Designer 2013. – Dewayne Feb 24 '20 at 17:36

In the User Interface, the Lookup column will display the text value from the source list, which means you can copy and paste manually through the UI.

But behind the surface, SharePoint stores this in a FieldLookupValue. Depending on what workflow technology you are using, you can coerce it into text, but then you will end up with the source item's ID and text value concatenated together, something like "42#, TextHere".

Both SharePoint Designer workflows and Power Automate Flows have the ability to grab the text of the source lookup value, but you won't be able to just do a loop where list1item["Column1"] = list2item["Column2"], you will have to make a special case for that field. If you add more details about your version and workflow platform, I can give you some tips how to get the value you want copied over.

  • The list are operating in 2019 SharePoint farm (previously upgraded from 2013 and 2010). Using SharePoint Designer 2013, but 2010 SharePoint Workflow technology. Company did not update SharePoint Worklow from 2010 technology, when updating the SharePoint farm from 2010 to 2013 and then 2019. The InfoPath Designer is 2013. – Dewayne Feb 24 '20 at 17:34
  • So are you using the built-in 2010 workflow action "Copy List Item"? – willman Feb 24 '20 at 18:24
  • I am using Copy Item. In the workflow step, if the current item:Approval Status equals Approved, Copy item in Current Item to the selected list – Dewayne Feb 26 '20 at 19:52
  • So, this is kind of a pain, but the next step after "Copy Item", you will need to add an Update Item to update the new item that was just created by the Copy action, explicitly set the Lookup field, and in the get value from current item, when you choose the Lookup field, you get the option to choose LookupID or LookupValue, make sure you choose LookupID. – willman Feb 26 '20 at 20:15
  • OK. So should this be another step independent of the Copy item or is it OK to put following the Copy Item as the next action. In this workflow, I only have the one step, but it contains several actions. – Dewayne Feb 27 '20 at 3:39

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