Overview and configuration for custom sending workflows

Overview of Custom Workflows

The Custom Workflow Designer is used to create workflow templates that predefine the agreement composition and signing processes to fit your specific business requirements. Users can design workflow templates using an intuitive interface that makes it easy to specify the characteristics of the participants—including predefined names, roles, and routings; the documents to be included in an agreement; form fields to be pre-filled by the sender; email distribution for the participants; agreement expiration or password options; and more.

Senders using a workflow template are guided through the agreement creation process with custom instructions and fields, making the sending process easier to use and less prone to errors.

Depending on the account/group settings, all users can have access to create workflows for their personal use or to share with their groups.

  • Administrators can build and share templates at the group level.
    • Account-level admins can share a workflow across the whole organization.
  • Non-administrative users can be empowered to develop their own workflows and optionally share them with the groups they are members of.

The history and audit report for the agreement created by the workflow can be accessed from the Manage page.

While the agreement is In process, you can add reminders and perform other agreement-related tasks.

 Once you are logged in, select Workflows in the top menu of the home screen.

Signing/Approving and Managing a workflow generated agreement

The agreement generated by the workflow process is exactly the same as any other agreement that has been sent through the same group.

The signers and approvers can sign using the link in the Please sign/Please approve email or from their Manage pages if they are registered Acrobat Sign users in trusted accounts.

Senders have all of the same options available to manage the agreement from their Manage page.

Reports and data exports treat the agreement the same as any other manually created agreement.



The Custom Send Workflow environment is available for enterprise license plans only.

Configuration scope:

The controls that impact Custom Send Workflows can be accessed at the account and group levels.

Enabling the newest workflow experience brings workflows closer to the functionality of the manual Send process.

Features enabled with this option:

  • Reflowable page layout
  • Use Digital signatures for one or more of your recipients
  • Configure recipients to use premium identity verification
  • Configure recipient groups during the sending process
  • Attach documents from all enabled sources during the sending process

To enable the newest experience, navigate to: Account Settings > Send Settings > Custom Workflow Controls

Configure workflows to use the new experience

Premium identity verification

In the Workflow Designer, all the enabled authentication methods are displayed in the recipient object.

The authentication methods display as checkboxes, allowing the workflow design to permit options for the sender. 

If multiple options are checked in the designer, these same options are available to the sender during the sending process.

Recipient tab with the signer properties exposed and the authentication options highlighted

Recipient groups

The recipient objects in the designer can be assigned as recipient groups.  This allows the sender to use a reusable recipient group from their address book or an ad hoc recipient group to identify an array of email addresses that are permitted to act for that one signature step.

For example, if you need one of three managers to countersign, you can add a recipient group containing all three emails. When the signature cycle comes to the recipient group, all three managers are notified, but only one needs to complete their action. 

When using a reusable recipient group in a workflow, the recipient must be created first and must be available to the user within the usable scope of the workflow. Meaning if the workflow is available to the whole organization, the recipient group must also be available to the whole organization.

To add a reusable recipient group, select the Add Recipient Group button to pop open the group selector. 

  • Only recipient groups that have compatible user permissions are available:
    • A custom workflow accessible to an entire account can only use account-managed recipient groups
    • A custom workflow accessible to an entire group can use group and account-managed recipient groups
    • A custom workflow accessible to an individual user can use user, group, and account-managed recipient groups
  • The name of the reusable recipient group is automatically inserted as the group name when using the template to send an agreement.
  • If the recipient is configured as a recipient group, the recipient can no longer be Editable when using the template to send an agreement.
  • The members of the reusable recipient group can not be edited, deleted, or added to.
  • The recipient may not be removed from the signature flow when a recipient group is configured, even if the recipient isn't flagged as required.
The recipient configuration panel with the Add Recipient Group button highlighted. Including the recipient group picker window and the resulting Send page

Ad hoc recipient groups are created in the custom workflow recipient definition, existing exclusively to describe one recipient in one workflow. There is no option to save or reuse them in any other process.

To configure an ad-hoc recipient group:

  • Enter the email addresses of the recipient group members into the Recipient field using commas to delimit them.
  • Check the Mark as recipient group checkbox.
    • The system automatically inserts a name for the group when a sender starts an agreement using the workflow. The group name contains a prefix identifying the name as automatically generated, and then the string "Recipient Group X," where X is an incrementing number starting at 1 and increasing depending on the number of recipient groups added. 
    • If the recipient is configured to be Editable, the sender can edit the group name, delete any prepopulated members, and add new members as needed.
The workflow designer with Mark as recipient group selected and the resulting Send page with the recipient group members listed

File Attachments

During the sending process, documents can be attached from any of the enabled Acrobat Sign sources.

Add a file


When attaching an Acrobat Sign Template to a Workflow, users will only see the Templates that are assigned to the same group as the Workflow and the Templates assigned to the Organization (Account-level Templates). This is due to the Workflow's (one-to-one) relationship to Groups. (And the fact that account-level templates are inherited by all groups.)

This is a different experience than when a user who has a membership in multiple groups (one-to-many) views their Template library. Because the user has access to various groups, they can view all of the templates related to all of the groups.
This is not the case for a Workflow that is limited in scope to just one group.

The user experience under the "new" setting has been updated to a modern reflowable design, like the Send page.

The instructions that are to the right of the recipient list in the legacy experience have been moved to the top of the page in a collapsible window.

Workflow configured agreement

Template defined field assignment

Template-defined field assignments strongly relate the recipient list, as defined in the workflow designer, to the appropriate field assignments on your authored forms.

Example uses case:

  • A (customer) signer is to sign first
    • Optionally a co-signer may sign second
  • An internal counter-signature is applied by a sales representative

Traditionally this would require two forms because of how the recipients were indexed on the Send page:

  • One for the single signer scenario, assigning the internal counter-signature as the second signer index
  • One for the co-signer scenario, where the co-signer is the second signer index, and the counter-signature is the third

Under the "template defined" rule structure, you construct one fully enabled form with all possible recipient fields defined.

The recipient signer index (as defined in the Workflow Designer) is strongly enforced, disregarding any fields that are assigned to any omitted (optional) recipients when the agreement is sent.

So in the use case above, the co-signer is always signer index 2, but if the co-signer is not included at the time the agreement is sent, those signer2 fields are ignored, and the counter-signer (signer index 3) will still only have access to the signer3 fields.

Enable this new functionality by navigating to: Account Settings > Send Settings > Custom Workflow Controls> Enable template defined signature placement

Configure workflows to use template efined signature placment


Enabling the template-defined signature placement feature will disable the option to author the agreement during the sending process.

Understanding the relationship between recipients and fields

Each recipient involved with an agreement is assigned a signer index number. This index number is required to associate the recipient with the fields they have authority to add content to (such as a signature field).

Recipients acquire their index number based on the stack order on the Send page. The recipient at the top of the stack is 1, the next recipient is 2, and so on. This index number can be seen when the agreement is configured to"Complete in Order" but is still present when the workflow is "Complete in Any Order."

Recipient stack


When building a recipient flow in the workflow designer, the signer index is assigned following the rules:

  • Top to bottom
    • Left to right

In the example below, the Signer and Co Signer are at the top of the stack.

  • The "Signer" is the left most recipient at the top, so is assigned index 1
  • The "Co Signer" is also at the top, but to the right of the Signer, so is assigned index 2

In this use case, it doesn't matter which physically signs first, so they are inserted into a parallel signature flow. However, the signature index is rigidly enforced to ensure the Signer applies their content to the correct "Signer" fields, and the Co Signer only has access to their assigned "Co Signer" fields.

The "Sales Rep" signs third, after both the Signer and Co Signer are done.

The "Exec Approval" is requested fourth, after the Sales Rep counter-signature is in place.


The recipient names "Signer," "Co Signer," "Sales Rep," etc. have no bearing on the field assignment. These are just admin-defined labels used for user clarity in the workflow template. 


The above designer recipient flow will produce a Send page template that looks like the below.

(On the Send page, the stack order is more apparent, though the index numbers are not exposed.)


When authoring a form with fields, each field is explicitly assigned to a signing index (ignoring "Anyone" fields for the moment).

In the Acrobat Sign authoring environment, this is done by selecting a Participant and placing fields for that participant.

Each participant is color-coded to keep a visual distinction between what fields are assigned to each participant.


If you use text tags, the tag itself provides an argument (e.g. :signer1) that designates the field to the signer index.

To even have the option to configure workflows, the feature has to be enabled.

Navigate to Account Settings > Global Settings > Custom Send Workflows and enable Enable workflow designer for administrators.

Once enabled, all account and gorup level administartors will have access to the workflow designer in their admin menu.

  • Group-level administrators can create workflows for the groups they have administrative control over.
  • Account-level administrators can create a workflow for any group, as well as organisation wide workflows.
Configure workflows to be exposed for the account

  • When the setting is enabled, the option for Custom Workflows is available after selecting the Workflows tab.
  • When the setting is disabled, the Custom Workflows option is not available.
Enable access vs. diabled

To enable the option to create workflows with an "Only me" scope of use, workflow designer must be enabled for all users. If all users are not enabled, workflows can only be associated to groups or the whole organisation.

Navigate to Account Settings > Global Settings > Custom Send Workflows and enable Enable workflow designer access for all users.

Enable all users

  • When the setting is enabled, the option for Custom Workflows is available after selecting the Workflows tab.
  • When the setting is disabled, the Custom Workflows option is not available.


Enable access vs. diabled

By default, non-admin users can only create workflows for themselves, they do not have the authority to share a workflow with their group.

However, authority for users to share their workflows to their groups can be enabled at the account or group level.

Navigate to Account Settings > Global Settings > Custom Send Workflows and enable Allow sharing of user created workflows to any of their groups.

Allow users to share workflows to their group

  • When the setting is enabled, users see the group selector drop-down box as an option for who can use the workflow.
  • When the setting is disabled, the group selector drop-down option is not exposed in the interface.
Allow sharing

Accounts that want to strongly enforce specific workflows for all of their documents and streamline the process of sending to the minimum amount of input by the user can fully define all of their document workflows and restrict users from ad hoc sending entirely.

Accounts that leverage Users in Multiple Groups can extend the configurable options at the group level settings, thereby ensuring the correct signature options and notification processes are rigidly enforced.

To limit users to only sending with approved workflows, navigate to Account Settings > Global Settings > Custom Send Workflows and check Enable sending agreements using only workflows.   

Configure workflows to be the only method to send agreements

Error Reporting for common issues

Some elements of the legacy workflow experience will produce errors under the new interface as a result of improved control and security in the newest experience. Additional error trapping has been put into place to better expose and explain these errors when encountered.

If the account is configured to use the Modern Send experience, and a problematic workflow is launched, the user is presented with a red banner indicating the error:

If the account is still configured to use the classic experience by default, the workflow may continue to work under those rules. 

The modern experience displays errors as detected. 

In the case where more than one problem is found, all errors detected will be listed.

To make the workflow valid under the new interface ruleset, an admin must edit the workflow and correct the detected issues:

Under the classic ruleset, email strings could be malformed or improperly delimited (with spaces vs. commas, for example).

When this error is produced, the admin should check:

  • If the CC emails are properly delimited

  • Any defined recipient email string to ensure it is properly constructed
    • (e.g., name@domain.tld)
    • The modern experience accepts commas or semicolons

The modern experience requires unique values for all document titles on the Documents page of the Workflow Designer.

Additional details for this error can be found here

When designing a workflow, it is possible for an Admin to attach a document template that has a limited access scope.

When a user that is outside this scope attempts to load the workflow, the document cannot be attached, and a security violation is triggered.

For example, an Admin may create a new document template with properties that limit access to the owner only.  The admin can attach that document to the workflow because they are the owner. 

Any other user of the system is not the owner, so is outside the scope of the document.

When this error is prompted, the admin will need to adjust the properties of the attached document template.

Steps to review and adjust template properties can be found here


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