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I have a user that adds an entry to an Item List. However, getting the following error:

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

I figured out this could possibly due to permissions. The user is now in a group that has limited contribute rights to both lists I am updating and starting a process on. However, I want to keep the permission levels as low as possible.

Any idea what rights the user should have then or how I can circumvent this?

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    Does the user have at least read permissions to every list that the workflow touches? I've had issues where the user had to have permissions to a hidden list I used as a lookup table because the workflow used it to lookup a value. – T0t3sMcG0t3s Aug 28 '13 at 14:38
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I confronted the same error. I figured out that the list had a look up column and the user didn't have access to the lookup list. Allowing the user to read the lookup list solved the problem.

P.S. I wannt to help but don't have enough points to comments, that's why as an answer.

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if you are using SharePoint 2013 you can set the workflow to use "app permission" so the use can act with othe permission (eg. full control) during update operation. For a step by step guide to set the elevated permission in workflow step follow thi guide Workflow with elevated permission in SharePoint 2013

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I had same issue, so I had to give contribute access to workflow history list

http://yourSitePath/Lists/Workflow%20History/AllItems.aspx

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