SharePoint Workflow: Error Updating a List Item

We have seen the following error in our SharePoint workflows, regardless of whether they were created with Office SharePoint Designer 2007 or Visual Studio 2005:

Workflow Error

The error, at least in our solutions, occurs as the result of two specific conditions:

  1. The workflow includes an action to update the current list item.
  2. The save/submit operation came from a client application (e.g., Office Word 2007, Office InfoPath 2007) that was still open at the time the workflow was triggered.

Essentially, the Windows Workflow Foundation timer does not resume correctly after a workflow is reloaded. NOTE: The error cannot be reproduced when submitting a browser form.

In the past, we have tried workarounds for this issue. One option is to have the end user first close the client application. This will prompt the end user to save the file, and the application will be closed before the workflow is triggered. Another option is to add a Pause For Duration action to the workflow, thus providing the end user with a specific amount of time in which to close the client application before other actions occur, as shown in the following figure.

Pause for Duration

The problem with either of these workarounds is the dependency on the end user to follow a specific save/submit procedure. In a production setting, there is no guarantee that the client application will be closed in a certain manner.

Then, I stumbled across this post. A comment at the bottom indicates that a combination of Windows Server 2003 SP2 and KB932394 solves the problem. I tried the update and patch for my server and it worked. Many thanks to the SharePoint User Group UK for posting this information…

6 thoughts on “SharePoint Workflow: Error Updating a List Item

  1. Hi, Omer.

    I would check the Event Viewer first to see if you can get a more detailed error message. It seems like something is missing after "Reason". My gut tells me that it is a permissions issue…


  2. Hi, Andreas.

    Other than upgrading the SharePoint server to Windows Server 2003 SP2 and then installing the patch, I do not know any other fixes for this issue.

    Out of curiosity, what is your client application? If it is InfoPath, would it be possible for you to switch to a browser-only scenario? The issue does not occur with browser forms…


  3. Hi What I need is when I update the List I need to call the work flow activity. In work flow we are having OnTaskChanged event it will trigger when we change the Task, like wise If I change the list some action needs to happen in workflow .How can I do that one?

  4. Hi, Vairamuthu.I am not sure I completely understand your question. If you are looking to trigger a workflow whenever an item in a list is changed, that can be accomplished with an out-of-the-box workflow, a SharePoint Designer workflow, or a Visual Studio workflow. I have a few posts about configuring SharePoint Designer workflows that might help (for example,

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