If you delete those options they will continue to show up as a pick list values for historic projects, but will not appear as a picklist item going forward. Reporting should not be impacted.
Reporting on Removed Items from Pick List
My company uses a Multi-Select Pick List to allow users to easily input a "type" for Work Items. The volumes of Work Items for each "type" are shared in a report to upper management.
It has been brought to my attention that we need to remove some values from this Pick List as we no longer want users to be able to select these values for a Work Item.
However, we still want to retain these values for historical reporting purposes.
So my question is: are we able to delete items from the Pick List but ensure they still remain as values in any existing items so that we can continue to report on those old items? What's the best way of achieving this?
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One very important revision to my comment--I was answering (and we tested to confirm) for picklists, not multi-picklists. It does not look like multi-picklists retain the previous values. So sorry for the mix-up and we are now investigating to see if this is a bug or by design.