FAQs on Workflow | 13 Jan 2022

FAQs: Workflow Rules

What is a workflow rule?     

Workflow rules in Zoho CRM are designed to enhance productivity of the users and reduce manual work by automating routine activities in a business process. They allow you to create rules that can trigger different action types to produce a desired output. They also allow you to perform automatic actions on specific records based on specific filters, and automate your sales, marketing, and support.
You can send emails, update fields, create records, automate tasks, add tags, and much more with the help of workflow rules.
For example, consider a travel company named Zylker Travels. They design and arrange different types of tour packages, such as domestic tours, international tours, field tours, educational tours, adventure tours, religious tours, etc. While their packages are available to be booked, they want to send email alerts to customers every time they book a tour package with them. They also want to automate the process of sending alerts to the sales rep every time there is a big deal in the pipeline say, ₹100000.

All these needs can be taken care by the workflow rules, which not only automates this whole process for Zylker travels, but also helps increase the overall productivity of the sales reps.




What happens if an existing workflow Rule in Zoho CRM is updated or deactivated?  

 The way an update modifies an existing workflow rule depends on the type of actions associated with it. 

There are two types of actions in a workflow: Instant Action and Scheduled Action.
When you modify a workflow rule with instant actions (say you edit criteria or add/remove instant actions), the change is effective immediately. All records that are created in CRM post this modification will start following the latest rule. 


When you modify a workflow rule with scheduled actions, records that have met the criteria for the workflow rule but are just waiting in the pipeline for the scheduled action to take place will continue to follow the previous version of the rule. For example, you have written a workflow rule in which you wish to automate a follow-up email five days after the rule trigger date. A lead has entered this workflow and is waiting in the pipeline for the email to be triggered. If you modify the rule on the third day of waiting for this record, it still will send the email to the lead. This is because a workflow rule is not directly coupled to records, but is instead tied to the actions. If any record is already in the pipeline for an action to occur at certain time, it will continue to exist though the workflow itself is modified or changed.
The modified workflow rules will be applicable to new records, rather than those already in queue for scheduled actions to occur.
If you deactivate an existing workflow rule, all the associated actions will be inactive at once for the instant actions. However, for scheduled actions you will get options to select between Delete the Schedules and Do Not Delete the Schedules.


Also the workflow usage report will be reset for that workflow rule when edited. The count will be reset. After a week or so if the user views, the count will be available for after edit of the workflow.


How can I view workflow usage stats?  

The workflow usage is designed to give you the total record counts at each configuration stage in a workflow rule.
To view workflow usage :
  1. In Workflow Rules, either create a new rule or select an existing rule.
  2. In the Rule criteria page, click View Usage in the bottom-right corner.
  3. In the report, you can view the workflow usage for the configured execution type, conditions, and actions.


You can click the Close icon to exit the usage report page and view the respective workflow rule. 


Note- As of now this feature is only available for Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Zoho CRM.

Click here for Feature Availability


Read more about the workflow usage report here .  


What is workflow execution "Based on recommendation"?  

Automatic actions can be performed on the records before, after, or on the day of recommendation.
For example, if Zia recommends the product for a contact who has purchased it in the past, you can send an email or SMS to the customer informing them about this. Such notifications can be automated through workflow rules Based on recommendation.



 This option will only be displayed during workflow configuration if Zia recommendation is enabled. Read more.

Zia needs time to be trained. It will not start recommending as soon as you turn on the feature.  

Read more about workflow execution "Based on recommendation"  here .


How many conditions can be added in a Workflow rule?   

Multiple conditions in a workflow rule help you address cases where you have clearly defined action items for the records, that met the specified criteria and the ones that do not.
For each rule, you can add a maximum of 10 conditions each in the Enterprise Ultimate editions and 5 conditions each in the Standard and Professional editions.
Read more about it here.


Can I trigger a call with the help of a workflow rule?

No, you cannot trigger a call directly from a workflow rule.
However, you may create a workflow automation for the Calls module to manage calls within CRM efficiently. This will automatically perform actions whenever a call is received, made, missed, or scheduled. This significantly reduces the manual effort required to update or add details about individual calls.
Alternatively, you may add call to a workflow as an instant action that prompts the user to make a call via pop-up notifications, emails, or both, when the conditions are fulfilled. This increases the sales follow-up rate.
As of now you cannot directly add a call as an action  in the workflow. However, If you have a suitable API for calling, you can add it as an action by selecting Function under the Instant Actions tab in workflow. To learn more about using APIs to schedule calls, refer to this forum post .


Read more about the difference between creating a workflow rule for the Calls module and adding Call as an action in a workflow here .


What type of components can be automated with the help of workflow?   

The following components can be automated with the help of Workflow:
  • Email Notifications - Automated email notifications sent on triggering a workflow rule
  • Tasks - Tasks that are assigned to the users when workflow rules are triggered.
  • Field Updates - Automatically updating specified field values when workflow rules are triggered
  • Webhooks - Communicates with third-party applications by sending instant web notification (one-way) every time an event occurs in Zoho CRM
  • Functions in Workflows  - Develop a set of Deluge Scripts to receive responses from other applications and update CRM modules when the workflow criteria is fulfilled
  • Assigned Owner  - The assign owner action lets you automatically ascribe ownership to a record when the associated workflow rule is triggered. This action applies to all the triggers except delete of a record or cancel of a meeting.
  • Tags - Unique identifiers that can be associated with the CRM records to search, sort, categorize, filter, and segment them more efficiently
  • Create record  - Automate record creation in CRM by associating a module with it (lead, contacts, accounts, deal, etc.)

Are workflow rules executed instantly?   

There are two types of actions which are associated with a workflow. These are Instant actions and Scheduled actions.
For an instant action, it will occur as soon the given set of conditions matches with the record.
However, since the scheduled actions are supposed to occur at a given time after the workflow is triggered, say for example, 30 minutes, 10 days, or 1 month, the associated action will be executed  at the configured time.



The execution of actions will take place in the following order: Field update > Tags > Email Notification > Task > Slack notification, Cliq notification, Webhook, Custom function, Custom action, Create record (Executes in parallel) > Convert.

In some cases, it can take up to a few minutes to execute some actions.

Are workflow rules applicable for Sandbox?

Yes, workflow rules are applicable for a sandbox except for Emails and Social modules.

Can I trigger one workflow via another workflow?   

Yes, you can trigger one workflow with another workflow. However, the modules should be the same with interconnected criteria.
For example, a travel company has various tour packages, such as religious, international, adventure, and educational for its customers. They create a workflow rule for the leads module where, if the Tour Package field is modified to a Religious Tour package the corresponding Vaccination (Covid) field should be updated to Fully (vaccinated).
A second workflow is created for the lead module in which, if the Vaccination field is changed to Fully, the associated tag will be updated to Cov2Negative.



In this way, these two workflows are interrelated and triggering one workflow will trigger another workflow.


This can be achieved for more than two workflows as well.
However, the module should be the same. The Criteria should be inter-related for both the workflows to be triggered.

Why is my workflow not being triggered?   

There may be various reasons for your workflow not being triggered. It can be broadly classified into three categories, which are :
  • Manual Error
  • Execution/Function Error
  • Limitation of Automation
Let's  discuss these in a little detail :
  • Manual Error - This error can occur while creating a workflow rule. It consists of any discrepancy in setting conditions in workflow, an error in associating components to be triggered, any error in setting associated tasks or simply in specifying the criteria. This is a common error, and it can be solved by simply inspecting all the components of your workflow rule diligently. Most of the time, we make some small mistake while creating a workflow and it does not trigger.
  • Execution/Function Error - This is an error where the CRM gets confused while executing workflow. This may occur when the conditions are contradictory or the set of rules interferes with one another. This type of error is seen mostly when webhooks/functions are incorporated in the workflow. There can be some syntax errors, argument errors or argument mapping errors. These are common when a function is written and tried to be executed which can be sorted by inspecting those scripts or simply checking the execution rules.

  • Limitation of Automation - Your workflow rule will fail while trying to execute something beyond the capability of automation. This is a rare occurance, but itis possible if the conditions associated are beyond the scope of workflow.


Do I get an alert when a workflow rule is triggered?   

No, you will not get an alert when a workflow rule is triggered, if the rule is not made to trigger any email notification or alert for that very workflow.
However, you can go to the individual records and click on the timeline. There, you'll be able to view the triggered workflow rules for that module.


You can also view the workflow usage report for a particular workflow rule, to get an overall idea about the usage details of your created workflows.

Note- Workflow Usage report is available for Enterprise and Ultimate edition of Zoho CRM

Read more about the workflow usage report here.

How many workflow rules can be created for a given module/components in Zoho CRM? 

This depends upon the type of CRM edition you have purchased. For different editions, you will get different limits to create and activate workflow rules. Checkout the latest feature availability and limits here .

What is the difference between scheduled action and instant action in workflow?  

  • Scheduled action  - You can add email notifications, tasks, field updates, webhooks, custom functions, and send notifications via Cliq, Slack, or Cisco, which will be scheduled and triggered based on a specified time.

  • Instant action - You can add email notifications, tasks, field updates, webhooks, custom functions, create record, and send notifications via Cliq, Slack, Cisco or WebEx, which will be triggered immediately when the rule is executed. On Edit or Field Update actions, you can also convert Leads, Quotes, or Sales Orders.


Read more about instant and scheduled actions here.


How is a workflow rule different from an assignment rule?   

Assignment rules let you automate the record assignment process by defining rules based on which leads, accounts, contacts, deals, tasks, and cases are assigned to a set of representatives.
Workflow rules in Zoho CRM are designed to enhance productivity and reduce manual work by automating routine activities in a business process. They allow you to create certain rules that can trigger associated action types to give a desired output.
With an assignment rule, you can configure different criteria based on your industry's specifications, such as territory, product interest, or lead source, such that only the records that satisfy that criteria will be automatically assigned to the selected reps. By automating the record assignment process, you can save a lot of time and effort, and also reduce the inadvertent slips that may occur due to manual interventions.
The assignment rules automation only apply to records that are imported from other modules, enter CRM through webforms or from third-party applications via APIs.
Workflow rules help you to automate your sales, marketing, and support. You can send emails, update fields, create records, automate tasks, add tags, and much more with the help of workflow rules. They can be created for any record in your CRM.


Can I create a workflow rule with the help of custom function which is not available directly as Instant Action in workflow?    

You may create workflow rules for such components which are not directly available under Instant Actions drop down using custom functions.

This answer will become vague if it is said, you can create any workflow rule through a custom function. It has some limitations as the arguments which you put while creating a function should match its param value, only then the function can be executed. Also something which is not in capability of workflow automation can not be created through a custom function.
Hence, the answer is yes, you can create the workflow rules with the help of custom function which are possible to automate via workflow rules.
The workflow rules can be created for the given modules such as, leads, contacts, accounts, deals, tasks, meetings, calls, quotes, sales orders, purchase orders, invoices, campaigns, vendors, price books, cases, solutions, visits, emails and custom modules.


What are the benefits of using workflow rules?   

The benefits of using workflow rules are :
  • It automates various tasks related to particular modules.
  • It improves efficiency by eliminating the manual work of assigning tasks.
  • It reduces the overall operating costs.
  • It improves business processes through standardized working methods.

  • It improves the efficiency of the representatives by eliminating routine manual works. 

What are the major differences in rule trigger options?  

In Zoho CRM, you can automate some of the routine processes by triggering a workflow using Rule Trigger.
To create a workflow:
  1. Go to Setup > Automation > Workflow Rules > Create Rule.
  2. Select the desired module and fill in the respective details.
  3. Choose the suitable option under WHEN to execute the rule trigger.
The options under Rule Trigger are:
a) On a record action :
 Here, you can trigger a rule based on the record's actions.
  1. Create : This will trigger the rule whenever the record is created.
  2. Create or Edit : This option will trigger a rule whenever a new record is created or whenever the existing record is updated/edited.
  3. Edit : This rule will trigger whenever the records are edited. Here you need to specify whether the rule needs to be executed for "Any fields" or "Specific fields" only.

For 'Edit', 'Create or Edit' actions, an option to recur the workflow is provided. You can check Repeat this workflow every time a record is edited , if you want the rule to recur.

Imagine you're using Zoho CRM to manage your business tasks and processes. The "Repeat" checkbox in workflows can be really handy for you. Here's how it works: 

  1. When the "Repeat" Checkbox is Checked:
You'll see a checkbox labeled "repeat this workflow whenever edited." When you check this box, your workflow will repeat its actions under certain conditions. Think of it like a helper that keeps doing a task whenever something specific happens. Here's when it will happen:
  1. From False to True: This means that if your set conditions change from NOT being met to being met (TRUE), the workflow will run again. It's like saying, "Hey, now that the right conditions are here, let's do this!"
  1. From True to True: If the set conditions are already met and they are being met again, the workflow will run. It's like saying, "We are doing what's needed to be done, let's do it once more."
  1. From True to False: If your conditions change from being met to NOT being met, the workflow won't run again. It's like saying, "Oops, looks like things aren't in the right state anymore, let's take a break."
  1. From False to False: If your conditions are NOT met and they continue to be NOT met, the workflow won't run either. It's like saying, "No need to do anything when things aren't ready."
  1.  When the "Repeat" Checkbox is Unchecked:

Now, imagine you uncheck the "Repeat" checkbox. In this case, the workflow will perform its actions in a slightly different way:

  1. From False to True: If your conditions change from NOT being met to being met for the first time, the workflow will run. It's like saying, "Okay, we've got the green light for the first time, let's get this going!"
  1. From True to True: Here, the workflow won't run again, even if your conditions remain met. It's like saying, "We did what we needed to do once, no need to repeat it now."
  1. From True to False: If your conditions change from being met to NOT being met, the workflow won't run anymore. It's like saying, "Oh well, conditions aren't right anymore, let's pause."
  1. From False to False: If your conditions aren't met and they keep staying that way, the workflow won't run. It's just a way of saying, "Nothing's ready, so no action needed."
The "repeat workflow" instruction is like a special command that is attached to the trigger conditions. Even if you don't specify any conditions for this instruction, or if you don't turn on the "repeat" option, the workflow will still do the task over and over again every time the trigger conditions are met.
  1. Delete : This rule gets triggered whenever a record is deleted.


b) On a Date/Time :
This rule works based on the time and date of a record. Such as created time, modified time, date of birth and so on.
c) Based on Score
This rule gets triggered based on score such as Increasing, Decreasing or Updated score.




I cannot find the "Convert" option under actions while creating a workflow?  

The Convert Option will be available under actions only when either of the following parameters are met:

  1. You have selected when to execute the rule? as Edit. However, the option to repeat the workflow on every edit is unchecked.
  2. You have selected when to execute the rule? as Create.
  3. You have selected when to execute the rule? as Field Update.
  4. Included a condition to define the records to which the rule applies.

It is Mandatory to define a condition, because the rule can apply to leads, sales order or quotes that meet the condition. Not all records will be converted.
When the Edit and Field Update options is selected, Do Not check repeat this rule whenever a lead is edited. As a record cannot be converted multiple times.

What are the modules that can be automated in Zoho CRM?  

Workflow rules can be configured for all the pre-existing as well as custom modules in Zoho CRM.


How many alerts, tasks and field updates can I associate to a workflow rule?  

You can associate a maximum of 5 alerts, 5 tasks and 3 field updates to each action (Instant or Scheduled) to a workflow rule as of now. However, this count varies with the edition you are using.
In the Free Edition, you can associate a maximum of 5 alerts and 5 tasks to a workflow rule. This applies only to instant actions.
The Standard Edition lets you associate a maximum of 5 alerts, 5 tasks and 3 field updates, which also applies only to instant actions.
In the Professional Edition, you can associate a maximum of 5 alerts, 5 tasks, 3 field updates and 1 web hook to a workflow rule. This also applies only to instant actions.
The Enterprise and other Editions let you associate 5 alerts, 5 tasks, 3 field updates, 1 web hook and 1 custom function. This applies to an instant action and 5 scheduled actions.

Click here
to know more about feature details.

When my account is downgraded, what happens to the Scheduled Actions?

Scheduled Actions are available in all the paid editions of CRM. However, when your account is downgraded to a free edition, all scheduled actions for the records will be deleted.

Click here to know more about feature availability in Zoho CRM.

The existing alerts and tasks that I created are not listed when I try to associate them to a rule. Why?  

For a workflow rule, all alerts and tasks will not be listed. Only the alerts, tasks and field updates which have the same Record Type as the workflow rule will be listed.

For example: If the rule is for Leads, then only the field updates, tasks and alerts created for Leads will be available for association.


How can I disable workflow rules for Users in my CRM acount?

Workflow rules can be defined by any user with the 'Manage Automation' permission. By default, the Administrator and Standard profile users have this permission and you cannot change it.
However, you can create/clone another profile without the 'Manage Automation' permission (under Automation), and assign this profile to users.


Learn more >>

Managing Profiles

Workflow Rules  


How can I send an alert to my users to follow up the new contacts with the Lead Source as "Advertisement"?  

You can send an alert to your users when a new contact is created with the Lead Source as "Advertisement" using Workflow Rule and associating a Workflow Alert to it. Workflow management helps you to automate your sales, marketing and support processes. You can automatically assign tasks to users, based on the criteria defined in the rules.

Can I automate email notification for idle records in Zoho CRM?  For example, When a lead has remained in a particular state for over 14 days, an email should be automatically sent to their  managers in CRM.   

Yes. You can automate an email notification if a lead has remained in a particular state for a long time, say 14 days. Use scheduled actions in workflow rules to do this. Here's how you create scheduled actions in workflow rules:
  1. Click Setup > Automation > Workflow Rules.

  2. Click Create Rule.
  1. Under the Create New Rule Page, choose Record action, Criteria as Edit, select Field Update and pick the Lead Status field to Any Value.

  2. Under Which, choose All leads.

  3. Add a Scheduled action to be executed 14 days after the Rule Trigger Time.
    To this, associate a scheduled action Email Notifiication.
  4. Add the Email Notification and select the users whom you want the email to be sent and email templates. You can create your ownemail template as well.

  5. Click Save and Associate.
After setting up this rule, if the Lead Status field is changed/updated, the email as configured in the custom function will be automated 14 days from the date of modification (rule trigger time)  


What is the order of execution when all of the automation rules are configured in your CRM account?  

In Zoho CRM, if all of these automation configurations are set up, they will follow this specific execution order:
  1. Assignment Rules: The initial step involves assigning an owner to any record entering the CRM system.
  1. Review Process: If incoming records meet the review process conditions, they must undergo review by an authorized reviewer before proceeding further within the CRM.
  2. Scoring Rules: Subsequently, scoring rules are applied to the record.
  3. Workflow Rules: Any configured workflow rules come into play at this stage.
  4. Approval Process: The record enters the approval process based on the predefined criteria.

These five processes occur sequentially. If additional workflow rules are configured, they will trigger based on their respective execution criteria. For example, a workflow rule has been set that if the lead status is "Ready to be engaged", then a welcome email will be sent. In this case, the email will be triggered as soon as the status matches this criteria, regardless of other automations.

  1. Blueprint: Following the above steps, the Blueprint comes into effect.
  2. Scoring Rules (Repeat): Scoring rules are applied once more in this loop to ensure that the score is updated upon the execution of actions. 
  3. CommandCenter: Finally, the CommandCenter process is initiated, completing the comprehensive automation workflow within Zoho CRM.
The Timeline will display the order each process was executed in your CRM account.











We hope that this list of frequently asked questions about workflow rules is informative. If you still have questions that haven't been addressed, please let us know here. We will be happy to discuss them with our subject matter experts and add them in the future. And please don't forget to share your rating below!


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