You cannot perform this operation on a draft workflow


As a JIRA administrator, I have several times edited and updated the workflow that our projects are using.

Today, when trying to edit the workflow and adding new transitions from "backlog" to "open" I'm getting the following error:

You cannot perform this operation on a draft workflow. More Information.

(where "more information" leads to the confluence page of editing workflows)

I don't understand what I'm doing wrong as it is clear that I'm working on a draft workflow that I will need to publish later on.




7 answers

Ahh so to correct the default service desk workflow and add a single transition I have to create a whole new workflow, assign all existing issues to it? That is ridiculous. 


in your case you're running into a known issue. You can't add outgoing transitions to final statuses.

If you want to work your way around this: 

  1. Create new workflow as a copy (that way it will be inactive)
  2. Add in all the transitions you need
  3. Associate the workflow with your scheme and the issue types again to activate it
  4. Run through the wizard
  5. Done

Another thing you can't do on active workflows (drafts) is to delete statuses

What you mean by "final statuses"? I have just created fresh copy of JIRA and I can not connect anything to the TO DO status. How is it final? How do I unfinal it?


Most importantly, why is the error message so unhelpful?


Why such arbitrary limitation?

Why is the error message so unhelpful?

A known issue since Jul 2015 that apparently is still in the system. Considering the price tag you guys put on your products, I'd expect some of the basic issues (e.g. setting up a new workflow or changing the existing one) to be flawless.

Thank you Christian Czaia, your comment helped me

@Enrico Foschi I agree. The more I bump into some ridiculous issues in managing Jira/Confluence, the more I realize how unprofessional Atlassian is.


When editing a draft worflow, some statuses/steps cannot be deleted and outgoing transitions cannot be added. This makes these steps and statuses useless.


JIRA contains specific code that removes the ability to perform these edits to occur on draft workflows.


A snippet from the workflow documentation:

Limitations when editing an active workflow

Please note that the following limitations apply when editing an active workflow (i.e. a draft workflow):

It is not possible to edit the workflow name (only the description) if a workflow is active.
Workflow steps cannot be deleted.
A step's associated Status cannot be edited.
If a step has no outgoing transitions (Global transitions are not considered), it cannot have any new outgoing transitions added.
A step's Step ID cannot be changed.


There are two different options:

  1. Publish the workflow after all steps are populated with transitions.
  2. Edit the workflow in a disabled state (either copy it or disable the workflow scheme).



I just ran into the same issue. I was able to create a new status and transition just fine at first. Then I published the draft and decided to go back and edit the workflow again. Now it's telling me I can't add a transition, which is strange since I was able to do it a few minutes earlier. There's got to be an explaination for this.

Please fix.  If this is working as expected then please round up the people who designed this and the people who approved that design, put them in a room with a door, close that door, lock it, and never go back.

It's on the list, but it's way way down the priorities from what I hear.

This is incredibly non-intuitive. I just went through the process of making a new workflow and then moving all of the items over to it. I just copied my original bug workflow and named the new one Original Name (v2).

This really should be much simplier, once a draft is published it should push you through the reassignment process (if needed). I don't know why Jira has to overcomplicate everything so much.

 It reeks of a process dictated by engineering limitations. It certainly has nothing to do with how users work. #UXFail

1 vote

This horrible bug is still present, please fix it. 

Yep... appearently, and it's over 2 years...

For me it's not worth adding the "Undo review" transition from "Done" to "In review", so we have to live with an out-of-date-workflow.

The workflow is shared by 5 projects, so it will be quite some work to disable the workflow and reeneble it again...

Imagine my pain trying to update a shared workflow across 12 projects 😥

I will show the monetary importance of this bug by using a very simple and real user journey map in the hope that Atlassian better understand the problem and prioritize it higher in their own product roadmap:

  • Stakeholder is shown all the customization options and Jira's powerful abilities to customize
  • Stakeholder decides to start a trial with Jira
  • Stakeholder starts a new project in Jira
  • Stakeholder tries to add a single status & transition to the default workflow, then save.
  • Denied. "You cannot perform this operation on a draft workflow. {More Information}"
  • Stakeholder looks at {More Information} link in error message.
  • {More Information} link is not as helpful as the other link that should have been used, as Stakeholder spends a few minutes reading about workflows.
  • Stakeholder reads: "When you edit an active workflow, JIRA first creates a draft of it, that you can then modify as you see fit," and glances over the information contained in the buried show/hide link that follows {Editing limitations...}.
  • Stakeholder searches the web for a solution to this seemingly basic customization and finds this forum and is dismayed that this little problem is taking a long time. And starts to reconsider this product he/she is wrestling with.
  • After reading the forum from users, the Stakeholder finally finds the workaround solution!
  • Stakeholder then navigates to workflows, duplicates the current (default) workflow, changes the name of the duplicated workflow (but can't use the default name since it is the active one), adds the status and names it, adds the transition and names it, navigates to the workflow scheme, changes the workflow in the scheme, navigates back to workflows, then finally deletes the default workflow.
  • Stakeholder sits back in his/her chair and imagines the nightmare of
    • A. doing that again for multiple projects
    • B. teaching others this very basic and essential customization that turned out to be a complete headache
    • remembering how to do the 9-step workaround to this bug after a couple months
  • Stakeholder decides to not go through with Atlassian and does not spend money

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