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I have noticed over the last month or so that the "Automated process" user is being used to complete time based workflow actions instead of the triggering user. This is causing some issues with email alerts* but does anyone know under what conditions Salesforce would use this user?

Just to add this happens for me so while a user being inactive may be one scenario it's not the only one.

* When emails are sent via the "Automated Process" it appears they are sent with no from email address and gmail blocks it as spam. I have resolved this for my scenario but just in case others come across this.

An Example: 1. I update a field that causes a time based workflow field update to go into a the queue, due to fire an hour later 2. I can see the action in the queue, created by me 3. The action fires but the record is last updated by the "automated process" user No other record updates occurs between 1 and 3.

This is the user record I am referring to, note it's not clickable:

enter image description here

Edit: At least we can now debug the entity:

enter image description here

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  • Did the owner change between the time the time-based workflow was initially "triggered" and the time it was fired? Did it need to be reevaluated more than once?
    – crmprogdev
    Feb 4 '16 at 15:58
  • That's a possible cause in some situations but I can recreate using myself in a controlled sandbox environment where there are no other updates between the record entering the queue and the action taking place (update the question with an example).
    – Girbot
    Feb 4 '16 at 16:26
  • 1
    It sticks in my mind that formula field updates can cause time-based workflow to fire in Process Builder since timebased is reevaluated before execution. Might it be that a formula field evaluation/update from a related object caused the actual workflow to execute, thus the reason the action took place as an Automated Process user instead of the User who scheduled it?
    – crmprogdev
    Feb 4 '16 at 16:57
  • I don't think so but that's useful to be aware of. I'll have a look at the objects.
    – Girbot
    Feb 4 '16 at 18:30
  • Related question and an answer if you're looking for help with Automated Process user generated Email Alerts (via Workflow): salesforce.stackexchange.com/questions/201407/…
    – Jay Kilian
    Jan 28 '19 at 20:19
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I've got to the bottom of one scenario specific to a sandbox (still seeing it in production though) - for some reason the default workflow user was bugged. The user lookup was completed with the expected user but if you clicked on the lookup it couldn't be found (it did exist). I'm guessing either a faulty sandbox creation or something like the user record being edited at some point broke the lookup.

Changing it to myself then back to the desired user has removed a large portion of last modified by the "Automated Process" user in this particular sandbox. So checking the default workflow user is definitely a place to check.

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  • Wowww. You are a life saver my friend. Mar 14 '18 at 19:21
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The time based workflow is probably being fired by a field update that the "Automated Process" user is running. I would check the fields that this user updates, and see if you have any triggers or other workflows that are updating based on that field.

Depending on your triggers and workflows, it could be a daisy-chain of updates (whether intentional or accidental). So, make sure you check to see if updated fields are firing other WFs or triggers for other fields.

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  • But why is the automated process user being used at all, why isn't the user who triggered the time based workflow used? In most situations this is the case but I can see plenty of examples where it isn't.
    – Girbot
    Feb 4 '16 at 16:29
  • I don't know how you have your automated user set up. But, most places would use that for imports and system integrations. Here is a scenario that the automated user could be sending emails. You have SF linked with an accounting system, and you keep your contact information in sync. You have an email go out to the SF owner whenever a contact is updated. If you update the address in your accounting system, the automated user would then update your SF record, via your syncing rules. That update would then fire off the WF email.
    – smckitrick
    Feb 4 '16 at 18:08
  • If someone is using the wrong user, that is a completely different issue, and you will need to identify who that is and why.
    – smckitrick
    Feb 4 '16 at 18:09
  • Not sure you are following what I mean by the "automated process" user - I've added a screenshot to my question
    – Girbot
    Feb 4 '16 at 18:29

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