I'm currently working on a SharePoint website that works as a service request system. There is a 'Need By' date that the user can fill out to let us know when they need the task to be completed. My boss wants two emails to be sent to him: one when the request needs to be filled within three days and one if the request is overdue. I have workflows that do this but they only work if a new item has been created, if one has been changed, or if manually started- as that's what SharePoint offers OOTB.

Is there a way to monitor the requests and send an email if they are 3 days away/overdue? In other words, can a workflow start in any way other than what SharePoint offers OOTB?

And another question, just in case the answer to the previous one is no: is there a way to start the same workflow on multiple list items? I want to basically select every list item and run the overdue workflow on all of them all at once to see if that could be a temporary solution to my problem. I tried earlier and it wouldn't let me; the internet doesn't seem to have the best answer for me either.

Also: I'm working with SharePoint 2013 and I have SharePoint Designer 2013.

1 Answer 1


No, there's no real way to start a workflow other than on created, on modified, or manually. You can start 2013 workflows via a REST call, so you could set up some other code that would monitor the items and then start the workflows from code, but that still technically (from the workflow's perspective) counts as "manually".

In your case, here's what I would do:

  • Consolidate both workflows into one workflow
  • Set the workflow to start on item created.
  • Use "Add time to date" to add -3 days to the Need By date, output to a variable ("Reminder date"?)
  • Use "Add time to date" to add 1 day to the Need By date, output to another variable ("Overdue date"?)
  • Use "Pause until date" to pause until the "Reminder date" date
  • Send the reminder email
  • Use "Pause until date" to pause until the "Overdue date" date
  • Send the overdue email

If there's a field on the item used to indicate whether the request has been addressed/completed, you could check that after each pause to see if you really need to send the emails.

If it's possible for people to edit their request and change the Need By date, I would still consolidate them both into one workflow, set it up to loop, and pause only for one day, and every day check the Need By date and see if it is within the threshold of 3 days away or overdue, and if so send the appropriate email.

As far as whether the same workflow can be run on multiple items, yes, of course it can, although technically you would be running a separate instance of the workflow for each item. To do what you want to do with the overdue email workflow, you would have to set it to allow manual start, and go through each list item and start it manually for each one. There's no way to batch run a workflow against multiple items.

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