Notion's database feature makes it ideal for managing projects of any scope or scale. However, every team uses more than one database at a time and often finds the need to combine these databases instead of creating more new ones. Notion's rollup property type can help you meet that requirement.
Notion rollups allow you to seamlessly aggregate data from multiple databases. This way, you can quickly create database views for different audiences, combine metrics to get a better picture of your marketing performance, manage HR functions efficiently, etc. The use-cases are infinite.
In this article, we will dive deep into Notion rollups. We will discuss how they function, the benefits of using them, types of rollups, and use-cases. We will also show you how to set up rollups with an illustrative example.
What are Rollups in Notion?
Rollup is a property type in Notion that is designed to help you import data from a database into the one you're currently working on. This feature obviates the need for manually entering data or recreating columns — rollups automatically fetch and display the relevant information from the designated database at the right place in the master database.
By using rollups, you can effortlessly combine data from different databases. This allows you to create a comprehensive view of your project or function. The new master database can help you visualize data from different lenses and discover new intricacies.
How to set up and use rollups in Notion?
In this section, we will use an example to show the set up process of rollups in Notion and also where this property finds its use. Here are the 7 steps:
1. Identify or create at least two databases in Notion
Even though you can apply rollups across many databases, you need a bare minimum of two to begin with. One database into which you want to import data, and another, from where you want to import data.
For reference, we will use the two databases displayed in the below image:
The database at the top records the current marketing campaigns of a company and the one below it records the SEO plan, which is a part of campaigns.
The SEO plan is highly specific - It captures details related to the SEO efforts, including the social media sites where the content will be promoted and the budget accounted for each article.
What we intend to demonstrate in this example is the process of rolling up of the budget details from the “SEO Plan” database to the “Campaign” database. We will map the SEO articles with pertinent campaigns and add up the budget details to determine the overall budget for each campaign.
2. Create a new column and edit it’s property type
Now that we have both the databases ready, let’s link them together by using the “Relation” property type. To do that, create a new column in the “Campaign” database and set the property type to “Relation” — as demonstrated in the below image.
Accessing our guide to Notion tables to learn how to create rows and columns.
3. Select the right database
As soon as you set the property type to “Relation”, Notion will prompt you to select the database to which you want to link the “Campaign” database, as displayed in the below image.
Since we want to link it to the “SEO Plan” database, we will select that option. With that step, Notion will create another column where you can add data points from the “SEO Plan” database.
4. Add data for the other database
Next, let’s add the data from the “SEO Plan” database to the “Campaign” database. To do that, click on the cell under the “SEO Plan” column, this will pull up the list of all SEO pages available in the database.
As displayed in the below image, we will map the SEO article titles with the campaign name.
All articles with the phrase “VoIP software” are associated with the “VoIP Software” campaign while the other entries are associated with the “Automating Caller” campaign.
This association will tell Notion how to assign other values in the table. For example, while adding the budget values, Notion will check the “SEO Plan” column to determine the relation, and only add the pertinent values.
5. Create a new column to add the rollup
Now that Notion knows what goes where, it’s finally time to set up a rollup property. To do that, create a new column in the “Campaign” database and set its property type to “Rollup” — see the below image for reference.
6. Select the “Relation”
Now for the roll up to be effective, Notion needs to know which “Relation” to consider. Since we have only one “Relation” set up in this example, it’s easy — we will select the “SEO Plan” Relation, as displayed in the below image.
However, while combining multiple databases, we would have many more “Relations” set up. In such cases, one needs to be more careful while selecting the “Relation” to avoid errors.
7. Identify the column to import
Our goal is to add up the budget for all campaign-related SEO articles, so we need to import the “Budget” column from the “SEO Plan” database, into the “Campaign” database. We can do that by setting the right “Property” as demonstrated in the below image.
8. Set the Rollup function
Alright, we now have the budget column in the “Campaign” database. But without mentioning the “rollup function”, Notion will simply list down entries. This means, the “VoIP Software” campaign will have 3 budget amounts separated by commas.
But that’s not our goal - we want to see the sum of all the values.
To set that up, simply click on the drop down next to “Calculate” and select “Sum” as shown in the below image.
This will immediately change the value under the “Budget” column to the summation of all the pertinent budget values. You can select any other function that appears in the drop down.
Potential causes for your Notion rollup not working
Even after following the above steps, you may run into issues while setting up rollups in Notion.
Here are a few reasons why you may not be able to set up rollups in your database:
1. Incorrect Relation
For a rollup to work, you must first set up a correct relation between the two databases. If the relation is not properly configured or if it is linked to the wrong database, the rollup will not function as expected. Additionally, you must also make sure that you have selected the correct column to import into your database.
2. Incorrect Property Selection
While setting up rollups, you get to choose only from the “Relations” you set up. If you have many such “Relations”, it’s possible to erroneously choose the wrong one. If the wrong property is selected, or if the property has no data, your rollup will not work.
3. Incorrect Function Choice
Rollups in Notion use functions to determine how to calculate or display the data from the related property. If you choose the wrong function - for instance, using "Average" for a text property - the rollup will not yield the right result.
4. Data Type Mismatch
The type of data in the related database must be compatible with the rollup function. If there's a mismatch (e.g., trying to sum up text data), the rollup won't function correctly.
5. Data Privacy Settings
If the related database is private or has restricted viewing permissions, the rollup may not be able to access the necessary data. To fix this error, make sure that both the databases have access to read and copy each other.
6. System Errors
Occasionally, there might be system glitches in Notion that could temporarily affect the functioning of rollups. This could be due to code changes or outages. In such cases, try to set up rollups after a few hours. By then, the issue would have been resolved.
Benefits of using Rollups in Notion
1. Data Consolidation
In bustling teamspaces, data tends to spread across hundreds of databases. This creates a challenge when you need to cross-reference data points or spot trends. Rollups streamline this by consolidating essential data points into a focused view, making it easier to set up databases for specific use-cases like identifying trends.
2. Enhanced Project Management
Rollups in Notion enhance project management by consolidating key data for a wholistic progress overview. By rolling up due dates, you can get a bird’s eye view of impending deadlines, enabling you to prioritize tasks. Rolling up task statuses offers a snapshot of progress, directing focus where it's needed.
3. Custom Reporting
Rollups provide a powerful tool in Notion for creating custom reports and overviews that are tailored to your needs. Beyond compiling data, rollups enable you to generate focused insights and use them to direct your operations.
For instance, suppose you're the manager of a sales team and want to track performance. You could use rollups to create a custom report that includes data points like the number of deals closed, revenue generated, or client meetings scheduled by each sales representative. This granular view can help you identify top performers and areas that need improvement.
4. Increased Efficiency
In traditional data management systems, you might spend time and effort pulling data from various databases, compiling it, and then conducting required analysis or reporting. This not just consumes time but is also prone to human errors. This might lead to inaccurate insights and misguided decision-making.
However, with rollups, this process is automated. Rollups can pull data from various databases automatically and present it in a centralized view. This way, you can access, analyze, and report the information you need without having to go through multiple databases manually.
What is the difference between relation and rollup in Notion?
A relation property type in Notion links one database to another. It can help you import relevant columns from another database into the master database which can give a centralized view of the project at hand.
While relation helps you connect databases, the rollup property type helps you do calculations on the imported data.
For example, if you have a Relation between a project database and a tasks database, you could use a Rollup to display the count of tasks associated with each project, or the average time taken to complete tasks in a project.
In short, Relation helps you connect data while Rollup helps you present data the way you want to.
In conclusion, rollups can help you create detailed databases by leveraging information available in existing databases. This feature can help you visualize data in different ways and combine columns that together tell a unique story.
You now know how to combine databases effectively by using Rollups in Notion. Explore the different functions that you can apply while setting up rollups and create unique powerful dashboards for different audiences.