With sharepoint designer workflows, if the user creating an item doesn't have permission to edit an item, for example, any workflow that is automatically run on the creation of the item will fail if it is meant to edit some property of that item. This can cause problems if you want the automated workflow to perform various tasks, and run automatically, but you don't want users to edit items once they've been created. Do the "grant item access" or "remove item access" operate under elevated priviledges by any chance, or does the user who created the item still have to have the right permissions on the item for those activities to work? It'd be extremely useful if they did run under elevated priviledges.
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I hear your frustration with workflows not being able to run under elevated priviledges. This is the main reason we do not use workflows or the free Microsoft Templates in my company right now. In order to create workflows to do most of the tasks we need them to do, we want them to run with elevated priviledges. The prime example I use is the Employee Events template from Micrsoft. It is meant for a site administrator to create events for employees to sign themselves up for and keep track of the open "seats" left for the event. In order for a person to sign up for the event, they have to have read/write access to the Activies and Sign Ups lists. If they have write access to the Activites list, it means they can also potentially edit, create, and delete activites. This is a MAJOR problem if everyone has this type of access! Will Workflow Essentials provide a way to resolve this issue without having to custom develop workflows with Visual Studio using impersonation?