A lookup field in a custom object needs to be updated after the record is submitted for approval and locked.

Is the trigger able to achieve this, even if the record is locked?

2 Answers 2


The answer is, it depends.

If you have your code written directly in the trigger or in a class designated without sharing, then the apex code can update records that are locked, regardless of the user who caused the trigger to fire. I tested by creating a trigger on Contact that updates a field on the Contact's Account. When the Account is locked, I can edit the contact record with a non admin user and the field on the Account gets updated.

If you use code in a class marked with sharing that is called by the trigger, then you will get an exception. If the trigger was executed by an Administrator, then the code will always run.

  • Interesting. Is your code straight in a trigger or in a class marked without sharing? I'd swear it fails when I tried some time ago with sharing. I actually want it to fail on the lock, saved me time spelling out a val. rule / trigger that users shouldn't change detail lines when master is in approval. They were changing lines, rollup recalc kicks in, boom, blocked. I need to retest it then :/
    – eyescream
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 7:29
  • It was straight in a trigger. Didn't try it using with sharing. Maybe a little more testing is in order. Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 14:19
  • @eyescream I updated the answer as it does depend on how the class is marked for sharing. Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 15:35
  • Awesome. Thx for checking!
    – eyescream
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 15:46

It is if the user is ;)

If the action is initiated by System Administrator - sure. Otherwise - tough luck, exception will be thrown. It also depends if you've configured the approval process to "Administrator or current approver can edit the records".

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