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Tech Bite: Workflow Starting Rules 101

Considering the vast efficiencies workflow automation achieves, understanding how first to initiate a workflow is a critical step. This article highlights all you will need to know about your Workflow starting rules.

What are Workflow Starting Rules?

In a workflow, the starting rule determines when a workflow will run. Typically based on a condition or schedule, an enabled and satisfied starting rule is essential to any operational workflow, unless another workflow is invoking it. The types of starting rules are as follows:

  • Conditional Starting Rule – stipulates the conditions required for a workflow to run. The conditional starting rule is applied to business processes, as well. Use consideration when using the “if any” criteria it could trigger workflows unexpectedly because only one condition needs to be met.

  • Scheduled Starting Rule – is time-based and specifies when a workflow will run. When the schedule starting rule is the chosen, try to schedule repetitive and non-critical workflows to run during non-peak hours.

How are starting rules configured?

Configure starting rules from either the Publishing wizard or the Rule Manager.

  • Publishing wizard – is a step-by-step method that includes publishing and creating a starting rule.

  • Rule Manager – the rule manager allows users to select a workflow that has been published and create, edit, enable or disable it’s starting rules.

What are some best practices to consider when it comes to starting rules?

Since starting rules are essential to most workflows, follow these common, best practices and save time and energy in the future.

  • Exclude the Workflow User from workflows – This will help to prevent runaway workflows by limiting triggers. The configuration options are found in the Admin Console in Advanced Server Options.

  • Add conditions likely to fail first – Starting rules are evaluated from top to bottom so if one condition fails, the ones below are not evaluated.

  • Add conditions that call the repository last – If the workflow is having to find a path for an entry, put it last.

  • Be specific with conditions –Limit rules by adding specific criteria. If a document is a trigger and not a folder make sure to designate that criterion.

Example: If all of these conditions are true…

How can you troubleshoot a starting rule?

Conflicting Starting Rules – If the workflow is not running as designed, you may have conflicting starting rules. These are starting rules that will begin their respective workflows based on the same starting event. When two workflows are trying to run on the same entry at the same time, it may result in the workflows not running successfully.


  • Starting Rule assigned to Workflow A:

Run Workflow when a document is created, and the document page count is less than 50

  • Starting Rule assigned to Workflow B:

Run Workflow when a document is created, and the document page count is greater than 25

When these workflows run, if Workflow A runs on a document that has 45 pages and workflow B runs on a document with 32 pages, both workflows will run because their starting rules are met, resulting in a conflict.

In this scenario, you would need to adjust the starting rules to include additional criteria or select another trigger.

Runaway Workflows – The possibility exists of creating a workflow that starts other workflows. An infinite loop of workflows. The starting rule is fulfilling itself.


  • Workflow Y:

Whenever a document is copied into folder A, the workflow copies the document into folder B.

  • Workflow Z:

Whenever a document is copied into folder B, the workflow copies the document to folder A.

If you encounter a runaway workflow, disable the starting rule for the workflow. Then modify the starting rules and workflow definitions to fix the issue. It is always a good idea to exercise caution if you use the Invoke workflow activity ensure that your workflow reaches completion.

Hopefully, you can now rule over your starting rules. The benefits of knowing how to implement, troubleshoot successfully, and which best practices to use are instrumental in using workflow. If you have questions or would like more information on starting rules contact the Cities Digital Support Team.

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