CRM 4.0 Workflow – Turning Inaction into Action

We’re all familiar with business processes and workflows that are initiated when something occurs in the system - action begets action. But what about when some action doesn’t occur that should have? Inaction requires your attention! For example, suppose that you need want to escalate a Service Case (Incident) if it hasn’t been resolved within a specified time period? Or perhaps you want to send an email reminder if a task is overdue by some threshold? 

Let’s take a look at how to do this in the new CRM 4.0 workflow UI – the configuration has changed from 3.0 and it might take you a minute or two to find it, if you don’t know what to look for (or you’d just have to email Praveen J, like I did).

We begin in the Workflow form. We’ll start by adding a Wait Condition


It will add a row to the workflow step list and we’ll click on the link to specify the wait condition.

We’ll then need to select “Workflow” from the “Local Values” so that we can create the desired wait condition.


Here’s the tricky part. Now you need to choose “Timeout” attribute and “Equals” to indicate that you are going to wait for the there to be a “timeout condition”. Next you will use the Form Assistant and select from the Dynamic Values to choose the specifics of the “timeout”.

Choose the desired time interval, “After”, and then the attribute that you want to “timeout” on (e.g. in my case Task Due Date – one hour after the due date, I’m going to do something). It should look something like this.


Now “Save and Close” and you can then specify whatever action you want to take as the result of inaction!


Don’t forget to publish when you’re done!

Now there are lots of other creative ways that you can use this capability in CRM 4.0 Workflow. Give it a try! Turn inaction into action!

Derik Stenerson

Comments (11)

  1. Gary Bauer says:

    Great – now how can I flag upcoming activities – let’s say I want to send an email 3 months prior to a contract renewal date?

    Any thoughts?

  2. Tim Coco says:

    Very helpful. How would I use this to create a workflow to send an e-mail to every company that has not open a case in the last 30 days?  

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  4. pmdci says:

    Great article. My question is if this workflow would ever be fired by the due date of inactive tasks?

  5. pmdci says:

    Good post, but there is a little problem with this workflow.

    After the wait condition, I had to add a check statement step and check if the activity was still open. Only so should the action be taken as a result of inaction.

    Failing to do so would result in the workflow working and triggering actions even if the activity is closed.

  6. Mark Lloyd says:

    Good post.

    Taking this concept to the next level I want to trigger escalation email on a dynamic time.

    What I mean is that customer A has a different SLA to customer B in their contract in CRM.

    The esclation therefore depends on the contract the customer has and I dont want to hard code the wait time incase the SLA is ever changed at the contract level. get my drift?

    The more I think about this I am starting to think that a plugin is the only way to do this.

    Anyone got any thoughts?

  7. GK says:

    But why is this workflow on demand. How do I make it to happen automatically, when a date /time is reached?

  8. Shelley says:

    Good workflow – very helpful!  In my case I wanted to add a wait condition to ensure the quality of KB articles are kept up to date.

    Thanks Shelley

  9. Tushar Patil says:

    Nice article – Thanks.

  10. Albarada says:

    Can someone please explain to me the behavior of the "Timeout" function in workflows? how does it work?how many times the timeout check for the condition or does it keep on checking?! because am using a workflow/timeout until the task reached the due date and her status is still open, to send email to the user to inform him. But unfortunately the same email is being sent a lot of times (last try= 7 times). It's like the workflow is stuck or retrying multiple of times.

    can anyone help me plz?


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