Least Privilege Configuration for Workflow Manager with SharePoint 2013

I went about setting up Workflow Manager with SharePoint 2013 and found that there were plenty of articles and content that said "install this", "run this", but none of them really addressed the issue of a least privileged setup. So I figured it might do someone else some benefit to document this... (and, for what it's worth, I have spoken with the documentation team and the official TechNet documentation is being currently updated).

My configuration consists of the following servers:

  • Domain Controller - Contoso.com
  • SQL Server
  • SP2013-1
  • SP2013-2

For service accounts, I'm using the following:

  • CONTOSO\svcSetupAcct - SharePoint setup account (note, this is not the Farm account, but it is an account used to install SharePoint)
  • CONTOSO\svcWFAcct - RunAs account for WF
  • CONTOSO\svcSBAcct - RunAs account for Service Bus
  • CONTOSO\WFAdmin - domain group for WF Admin group
  • CONTOSO\SBAdmin - domain group for SB Admin group

According to the following link on TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj193451.aspx, the requirements for installation are local admin rights on the server where you are installing Workflow Manager and the SysAdmin role in the destination SQL Server. My gut feeling is that full sysadmin isn't required, but more likely something like dbcreator and maybe securityadmin (similar to SharePoint). However, since the TechNet documentation says sysadmin, then sysadmin it is.. (I've elevated the SQL rights for this account to sysadmin for the duration of the installation/configuration).

Installation/Configuration of Workflow Manager

Logon locally to SP2013-2 and install Workflow Manager. I'm not going to walk through the installation here as that is fairly straightforward, http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj658588(v=office.15)#section4.

<Sample WF Manager Account Configuration Screenshot>

Once the service is installed, you then need to configure it using either the wizard or PowerShell. You can also walk through the wizard and then create a PowerShell script from the settings you choose in the wizard. Also, rather than show the screenshots for my wizard settings, I've listed above which accounts are being used where. The only other configuration that is relatively important for my setup is that I'm allowing HTTP (since it's a lab environment), auto-generating the certificates, and enabling firewall rules.


After you see green checkmarks, then the next step is where I got hung up on the least privileged configuration.

Registration with SharePoint Server 2013

Verify that Workflow Client 1.0 is installed on each web-front end (WFE) in the SharePoint 2013 farm.

Logon locally to one of the WFEs using an account that has the following rights:

  • member of CONTOSO\WFAdmins
  • member of SharePoint Farm Administrators
  • has been added to the ShellAdmin role for the target contentDb, refer to Add-SPShellAdmin

Open a SharePoint Management Console as administrator and execute the following PowerShell command:

Register-SPWorkflowService –SPSite “<site collection url>” –WorkflowHostUri “http://sp2013-2:12291” –AllowOAuthOverHttp


  • -SPSite is the site collection where you want to bind the Workflow Manager
  • -WorkflowHostUri is the uri where you have installed and bound the Workflow Manager, including the port number
  • -AllowOAuthOverHttp is to allow non SSL traffic between the farms, but this would not be recommended in production


According to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj658588(v=office.15)#section6, you can validate that it worked by attempting to create a workflow through SharePoint Designer and verifying that you have the SharePoint 2013 workflow platform available.

Potential Errors

You may receive one of the following errors and I’ve commented each with the resolution I used:




Register-SPWorkflowService : The caller does not have the necessary permissions required for this operation. Permissions granted: None. Required permissions: WriteScope. HTTP headers received from the server - ActivityId: 5e2b96c5-f971-48c9-b3fd-405c3616e1c7. NodeId: SP2. Scope: /SharePoint. Client ActivityId : 8e592951-0027-40c6-b996-ba3dd194fdea.

CONTOSO\svcSetupAcct is not a member of the workflow admin group, CONTOSO\WFAdmins.

Add CONTOSO\svcSetupAcct to CONTOSO\WFAdmins and re-run Register-SPWorkflowService PowerShell cmdlet. You may need to logout and log back in to acquire an updated security token.

Register-SPWorkflowService -SPSite http://sp2013-1:31518 -WorkflowHostUri http://sp2013-2:12291 –AllowOAuthHttp Register-SPWorkflowService : Cannot open database "WSS_Content_WFTest" requested by the login. The login failed.

Login failed for user 'CONTOSO\svcsetupacct'.

CONTOSO\svcSetupAcct has not been granted ShellAdmin access to the WSS_Content_WFTest content database.

Grant CONTOSO\svcSetupAcct shell admin access to the desired content database using PowerShell similar to the following: Add-SPShellAdmin CONTOSO\svcSetupAcct –database (Get-SPContentDatabase WSS_Content_WFTest)

Register-SPWorkflowService -SPSite http://intranet.contoso.lab -WorkflowHostUri https://wf.contoso.lab:12290 Register-SPWorkflowService : Failed to query the OAuth S2S metadata endpoint at URI 'http://intranet.contoso.lab/_layouts/15/metadata/json/1'. Error details: 'The metadata endpoint responded with an error. HTTP status code: Forbidden.'. HTTP headers received from the server - ActivityId: b5163152-3e31-4809-a532-5e20d1320027. NodeId: WF. Scope: /SharePoint. Client ActivityId : b66b0ea4-d9a7-4d2d-8be8-3a0c58ab728c.

Incorrect use of parameters

Notice that the SharePoint site is non-SSL, but the parameter for –AllowOAuthHttp was not specified. For a non-SSL SharePoint site, the parameter –AllowOAuthHttp must be used.

Special thanks to a couple of my peers for their assistance during this investigation!

Joe Rodgers

Mike Pasco