Handling Workflow Errors with Camunda

Handling Workflow Errors/Exceptions with Camunda 7 : To Address or Let Be?


6/25/20233 min read

In the world of business operations, consider this analogy: managing workflow errors is like captaining a ship through turbulent waters. Some waves can be easily navigated, while others require swift intervention to avoid catastrophe. Using Camunda 7 as our compass, let's explore the delicate balance between addressing certain errors and allowing others to play out for deeper insights.


The Two Faces of Errors

Errors in your workflow are like obstacles on a pathway. While some obstructions are minor pebbles you can step over, others are boulders blocking your path.

Not every error demands immediate attention. Sometimes, allowing a process to 'trip' over a minor error helps us identify broader systemic issues. Think of these as the 'pebbles'โ€”they're not necessarily a direct threat, but they give insights into potential improvements.

However, there are processes, often the core of our businesses, where even a minor glitch can lead to significant consequences. These are the 'boulders', and they require vigilant monitoring and swift action.

In this example :

  • An InvalidPayment error can occur when processing a payment. We handle this error with a Boundary Error Event. When this error occurs, we cancel the payment task and direct the flow to the "Payment Failed" end event. This is a critical error, and we handle it immediately because the order cannot continue without successful payment.

  • We don't handle an out-of-stock error at the "Check Inventory" task within this BPMN process. Instead, we allow this error to escalate. But Why? Because maybe there's an overarching system or another process that monitors inventory levels and handles stock outages in a more global context. Alternatively, the business might decide it's more effective to address stock issues at a broader operational level rather than within the context of individual orders.

๐Ÿ‘‰ By delineating which errors are handled within the BPMN process and which are allowed to escalate, businesses can make strategic decisions about how to ensure both efficiency and robust error management.

So, how do we determine which errors to address and which to leave be โ“

  • Nature of the Process: If it's a core process, it might be worth ensuring that every potential error is addressed.

  • Frequency of the Error: A one-off error in a non-critical process might not need attention. But if it keeps recurring, it's a sign that something's off.

  • Potential Impact: Will this error lead to significant financial loss or customer dissatisfaction? If yes, it should be handled immediately.


In the end, using tools like Camunda 7, businesses can monitor, adapt, and innovate. But while the technology is crucial, so is the strategy. Knowing when to act and when to observe can be the difference between a business that's reactive and one that's proactive.

Implementation :

In Camunda 7, exception handling plays a crucial role in managing workflows and ensuring that errors are dealt with appropriately. There are multiple ways to handle exceptions, and your choice often depends on the nature of the error and how your business wants to address it.

Intermediate Throw Event with Error Type

The use of an Intermediate Throw Event with an Error Type is more of a manual approach to exception handling.

It allows the developer to explicitly model where and when an error should be thrown in the BPMN diagram.

Use case :

  • You want to highlight specific error conditions directly within the BPMN diagram.

  • You need to perform some compensating action before the error is actually thrown.

Configuring Task Retries

Camunda provides the ability to automatically retry failed service tasks. This is invaluable for transient errors, like temporary network outages, where a simple retry might resolve the issue.

Use case :

  • Situations where errors are likely transient and can be resolved without manual intervention.

  • When you want to ensure that a certain task has every possible chance of succeeding without human involvement.