One of my favorite features of Lightning Experience is the path. Now out of the box Path functionality allows you to visually represent a picklist value and with this automatically being pulled you may have just turned it on, added some fields and called it all good. But did you make the most out of your path?

The path can do more that just show the current status, it can make an intuitive logic to help explain the life cycle your record will follow. While some picklists are already optimized it’s quite easy to allow picklist values to be added upon request and the flow starts to get confusing.

When looking at your path and picklist values consider using some of the following to help determine if your picklist value is helping or confusing people:

  • Does the picklist value indicate the record has reached a milestone?
  • Does the picklist value indicate responsibility for the record has shifted from one party to another?

If the picklist does neither why is it present?

Picklist Values Not Always Used In A Path

One of the most common scenarios is using one path to try and accommodate two record flows. An easy example is Opportunities. When we work on Opportunities there are 2 main options – we closed the deal or we didn’t. When we use one path for both we end up with a path that has values we don’t need for one flow or the other. This creates a problem – which stage comes next? Now intuitively users can figure it out – but this is really a cascading concern. If I don’t know which stage is next, what steps should I take to move it to the next stage. At some point instructions will deviate depending on how the deal is progressing and we have to use more than the path to understand what to do next. 

In this case we could consider using a Record Type to keep our path nice and clean. From the example above there are couple ways we can break this out.

Shared Closed Record Type

In this solution consider we use a Closed Record Type. The path would display the following buckets New>Working>Closed. Upon selection of Closed the Record Type would change accordingly and this is a great opportunity to prompt for final information for what happened. Upon closed using the path or on the page layout prompt for a Closed Type or Reason to help bucket the records. You can still keep your Closed status in your main picklist if you wish. Just filter the values from the Open record type and create a Closed Record Type with the associated values and use a quick update action to change the record type based on the reason.

Primary Closed Record Type with the Option to Leave Path

In this example you may wish to plan on your Opportunity to go to Closed Won or even a further status like Delivered and leave the option to close out the record quickly based on it not progressing. For this solution we would create a Closed Lost specific record type and can use a Quick Action to answer what happened. Now the Quick Action wouldn’t necessarily let you change the Record Type. We can still use the Quick Action Layout to ask a few quick questions, like Closed Lost Reason, and have background automation update the record accordingly.

An Ultimate Path

Regardless of the picklist we are using we want to ensure the path functionality represents the story of the record in its current path. While we still recommend you customize the instructions for each of the values, giving each value a clear purpose will streamline work and alleviate confusion.