We have a custom list used to create items for tracking a process (Procedures). Another custom list (steps) has items detailing the things to be done in each phase. So the first item in the Steps list might have a title of "Request Received" and a Description that says "Please do some tasks that cannot be automated, like have a meeting."

The items in the Procedures list has a field called "Current Step"; which is a lookup to the title of the Step list. The workflow in the Procedures list changes "Current Step" to the next value after the item is marked complete. Very often this process works flawlessly. However, sometimes something goes wrong and we receive the error:

"The workflow could not update the item, possibly because one or more columns for the item require a different type of information".

There is no indication in SharePoint logs what the problem might be. If we restart the workflow on the exact item that failed it sometimes passes the process without receiving the error again, sometimes it continues to get the error. Has anyone else experienced this? This is SharePoint 2010 Server.

2 Answers 2


We added a 1 minute pause before this task and have not experienced the issue since. I have no explanation for this other than that there must have been times when the lookup and change was being done in conjunction with a lock on the item. I have no other explanation.

  • 1
    Does it matter at which point you place the pause? Do you place it at the very beginning of the workflow or just before your lookup?
    – wheeler
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 9:34
  • Calling from the distant future here... do you know if it's possible to add a pause to a built-in approval workflow?
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 23:15

Had a similar situation. In our case, we had a Nintex workflow which was using an Update Item action.

UAT was going smooth. Then, after a weekend, all workflow instances started failing. Well, I'm based in Europe, users were based in Eastern US. Issue was occurring only for the users, I could not reproduce it.

I have been struggling for almost one day, I had to ask users to test after each republishing of the workflow. Tried using pauses, replaced with Set Field Value, Commit Pending Changes, logging, changed list permissions.

Eventually, I found it.

I had the inspiration of asking if they have any contacts in a different time zone - I was suspecting that there might be some locking issue due to network latency (crazy, I even went there!). Then one of the users asked if this wouldn't occur because they changed the Time Zone in the Regional Settings. Interesting...

Replaced the Update Item action with a Call Web Service action, captured the response.

And there it was:

<Results xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/soap/"><Result ID="1,Update"><ErrorCode>0x810200c5</ErrorCode><ErrorText>[Added to Log] - [Date cannot be in the future]</ErrorText><z:row ows_ContentTypeId="0x01001DF9D8AC82C697429D318BBD31E

The Added to Log field had a column validation: =[Added to Log]<=TODAY()

When they changed the Time Zone setting, Nintex started crashing, even if the SharePoint UI accepted the input (a perfectly valid value passing validation).

One more lesson learned: also do a check on the column validation if you see this error happening. Hope this helps.

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