Use Custom Lists for More Effective Workflow Auditing

I’ve reorganized my life a bit and found some time to submit an article to  My latest article is up here: Use Custom Lists for More Effective Workflow Auditing (

This is the opening ‘graph:

SharePoint Designer workflow doesn’t give us a lot of visibility into what’s happening with our workflow solutions.  And, the visibility that we do get is hampered by a relatively poor interface and 60 day time window.  This 60 day window can be a major disappointment to new SharePoint Designer users because it’s not advertised by the tool itself.  It’s not at all uncommon for someone to fire up SharePoint Designer, create a workflow solution that leverages the “Log To History List” action…

The problem is that after 60 days, any messages that you create this way are deleted from the workflow history list!  After a bit of teeth gnashing and “what were they thinking?” arguments, the bottom line is this: it happens and it needs to happen.  The question is, how can we get around it?

The official answer is to rely upon SharePoint’s built-in auditing feature.  From an end user’s point of view, however, that’s very weak in WSS and not much better in MOSS.  Fortunately, we can still leverage the familiar SharePoint Designer tool to create a durable workflow history and audit trail which is an order of magnitude more useful to boot.  Here’s how.

I describe how to create a more friendly and useful audit solution for declarative workflow created in SPD. 

I was inspired to write this article from a recent project for a client that had developed nine technical SPD workflows in support of one logical business process.  Assuming for now that nine is a reasonable number, it was certainly a challenge to debug it or view the overall status of the process in one simple view.  Each of these separate technical workflows has its own independent workflow history list and that’s just not manageable.  I was able to combine all of them into a single audit list using the technique I describe on the site.

Check it out.


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2 thoughts on “Use Custom Lists for More Effective Workflow Auditing

    1. Paul Galvin Post author

      Looks like EUSP got significantly updated and the old link from my blog is no longer good. Sorry.


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