Failed (on Start) in SPD workflow.

This post is a contribution from Jaishree Thiyagarajan, an engineer with the SharePoint Developer Support team   

This blog is applicable to both Sharepoint 2010 and 2013 environment.

Say you have a Sharepoint 2010 Designer “List workflow” associated to a List. Whenever an item is added to the list, the Workflow gets triggered. If you encounter the error /message “Workflow failed to start and it was cancelled by System Account” in the Workflow History List, then please try the following to resolve the issue.

1. Check whether the workflow files like *.xoml, *.wfconfig, *.rules etc, are in check out state.

a. Open site in the Sharepoint designer

b. Click All files and open the Workflow folder.

c. Navigate to your SPD workflow and you can see the below files.


d. If the above are in “checked-out” state, try to check them in.

2. If you encounter the error “Cannot perform this operation. The file is no longer checked out or has been deleted” when you check in, then Your Workflow Hidden library might contain some extra columns (that are in required state)

a. There will be a hidden “workflow library” associated to every site. To navigate to the hidden library, follow the KB

i. Go to Properties of the Workflow library and get the List Id.

ii. Navigate to http://yourSite/_layouts/listedit.aspx?List=ListID


b. The only permitted columns are

i. Created By

ii. Modified By

iii. Checked Out To

c. If you have any other columns, then those should be “optional”. So make the other columns as optional.

3. Now try to check-in the Workflow files (as per Step 1).

Now your Workflow should run successfully.

Comments (6)

  1. chiranjeevi says:

    can I know the solution for custom workflow with same error

  2. Amay Kulkarni says:

    Superb it worked for me

  3. Diane says:

    Thanks – I’ve spent half the day trying to solve this.

  4. JP says:

    Very helpful. Solved the issue for me (workflow list had Title as required column).

  5. Hans says:

    This saved my day! I had no clue what could be wrong…. Thanks a lot. Somehow my hidden WF library had Title as required column

  6. Justin Page says:

    This worked for me. I spent a long time looking for an easy way to locate checked out files and this helped me. My title field was not set to required. I even went through the painful step of making it required just to remove it from being required.

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