In previous versions of SharePoint, there was a rule that you couldn't have two instances of a workflow running at the same time on a given item.

On SharePoint Online (2013 version), it seems that the rule does not apply the same way.

I have a long-running list workflow with two start options, when an item is created and when an item is changed. Here is what happens:

  1. When an item is created, a first instance of the workflow starts
  2. when I change this item, a second instance of the workflow starts (the first one is still running)
  3. when I change the item again, no new instance of the workflow is created (the above two are still running)

Is it the expected behavior? If so, could someone explain the logic, and point me to the Microsoft documentation where this is explained?

  • In 2010, multiple instances cannot run together on the same item. But in 2013 version, multiple instances of same workflow can run parallely on a single item. However I am still looking for its explanation online..
    – user35700
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 2:36
  • I have also observed this behavior, I have a list with a 2013 platform workflow associated with it, the workflow is triggered on create & update. When I create an item the workflow starts and assigns a task, when I edit the same item an additional instance of the same workflow starts and assigns a task, I now have 2 instances of the same workflow running against the same item at the same time. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 3:17

2 Answers 2


You can have multiple instances of versions of the same workflow.

If you go to Worflow Settings on the list's ribbon, you will be able to see old instances and then be able to remove instances of the old versions of your changed workflow.

This is based on my SP 2010 knowledge. Suspect that spec will not have changed at 2013.


According to SharePoint 2013 User's Guide: Learning Microsoft’s Business Collaboration Multiple instances of the same workflow cannot run on a single item at the same time GoogleBook

  • thanks for the link! Unfortunately my tests contradict that statement, at least on the Office 365 flavor of SP 2013.
    – Christophe
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 20:25
  • The link provided clearly says that there can be multiple instances of workflow running at any given instant. Besides, if you manually try to trigger the workflow it won't create new instance but if you have set it to trigger automatically on item add and update then 2 instances of workflow would be created as @Christophe has highlighted in the question description.
    – Amit
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 14:45

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