Creating A BPM with Inspiration from my PKM

Before you read

It’s a good idea to have some context about these topics:

  • Getting Things Done (GTD)
  • Zettelkasten
  • what a Business Process Management (BPM) software is and does

What this post is about

Hi there, I’m currently utilizing Zettelkasten as my main PKM system. But I’ve found it doesn’t work well with a large amount of arbitrary facts (like for instance, a note with a list of python variable types) and also for checklists (they’re stuck in your system and are not delegatable, which is not an option for me).

So I set out to create my own PKM inspired BPM, I guess you would call it.

I had some wants:

  • I wanted it to be able to live in obsidian
  • It needed to be all the things a good BPM is (delegatable, stand alone, add to the value of the business, etc)
  • But what I did LOVE about Zettelkasten that I definitely wanted in my BKM system is the “atomic” nature of notes that creates a very DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) setup. It also is very maintainable long-term.
  • I also wanted a workflow that merged very well with my PKM system now. Which sits well in my GTD workflow now. This flowchart does a good job of describing how I that workflow looks with non-actionable “Stuff” now with my Zettelkasten.

So… I came up with the idea below. I’d like if you other PKM nerds here to poke holes in it, add to it, or just tell me I’m dumb if you think so (but at least include why).


A Zettelkasten like BPM

What this is

This is a methodology for managing business procedures and factual references for a company.

Folder Structure

Business Reference
├── complex checklists
│   ├── complicated checklists
│   │   ├── simple checklists
│   │   │   ├── atomic references
│   │   │   │   ├── anAtomicReference.md
│   │   │   │   └── anotherAtomicReference.md
│   │   │   ├── aSimpleChecklist.md
│   │   │   └── anotherSimpleChecklist.md
│   │   ├── aComplicatedChecklist.md
│   │   └── anotherComplicatedChecklist.md
│   ├── aComplexChecklist.md
│   └── anotherComplexChecklist.md
└── README.md #this file

File Types

  • An Atomic Reference: This is the lowest level file. It contains a factual reference, that is also atomic.
  • A Simple Checklist: A simple checklist is the simplest type of checklist. Can only reference atomic references.
  • A Complicated Checklist: A complicated checklist is the second level of checklists. These checklists can reference both atomic references and simple checklists. Simple checklists can be steps themselves in a complicated checklist.
  • A Complex Checklist: A complex checklist is the highest level of checklists. These checklist can reference atomic references, simple checklists, and complicated checklists.

Rules

  • You can link down, not up. (e.g. a complicated checklist can have links within to simple checklists and atomic references but not to complex checklists)
  • All checklists must only be have a number of steps equivalent to human working memory (5-7 steps)
  • If this lives in the same vault as your own PARA or Zettelkasten, never link to actual links in your PARA or Zettelkasten unless they’re publicly available on the web. Otherwise, it is no longer a delgatable, stand alone system. I see no reason why your PARA or Zettelkasten can’t link to notes in this though.

Tagging

How tagging is done should be based on your organizational structure. But in most organizations, tagging would be done by departments. #finance, #sales, #marketing, #operations, etc.

Inspiration

I’ve put some thought into this, and I’m not sure if these will be issues as I haven’t created it yet. But I feel they might be. If anyone has any proposed solutions for these issues it’d be greatly appreciated.

Possible redundancy between Zettelkasten notes and this processes’ “atomic references”.
My thought initially was that it wouldn’t happen because I would just keep ‘arbitrary facts’ outside of my Zettelkasten. But I feel as though that may be inevitable. My goal is that this could work alongside a Zettelkasten without creating any redundancy or incompatibilities.

Update on this: I just read this comment here, regarding nested vaults. I think this could be a clear solution to this issue. Reference would live inside both vaults as one is nested. It could add to my overall Zettelkasten repository, but would also work as a standalone. The only remaining issue would be that References would only be able to be linked “to” and wouldn’t be able to link out of the nested vault. That shouldn’t be an issue considering the rules I outlined above and the design of this system, but in general I may not want my Zettelkasten itself playing by those same rules…

Handling Conditionals in checklists
Now I could either have multiple types of checklists, which could get really redundant, or some other solution. Creating a plugin for bpmn-js was a fleeting thought I had but I think that kinda defeats the purpose of this being in markdown and in obsidian.

I’m thinking now this can be solved if “simple checklists” are definitely used as “partials” for “complicated checklists” - for instance: Complicated checklist A has two possible steps that could be performed for “step 2” depending on the outcome of “step 1”. So, step two would have “simple checklist - outcome A” and “simple checklist - outcome B” both as options for step two. Avoiding the redundancy of having two “complicated checklists”

Have you tried bringing this Idea to life @broskees?

A little bit, just put it together structurally in my obsidian in a folder for now. I’m a little hesitant to try the nested vaults for fear of data loss.

Overall I was kinda hoping to brainstorm possible issues and go back and forth on the concept’s efficacy overall with people before I dived too far in.

I would think this would be very useful to anyone who could have the need to delegate.

I think I’m missing something. Could you explain why you need to nest this vault in an existing one?

Well, because I was thinking about it hierarchically originally and only having one-way linking to this, it seemed to make sense. I supposed you wouldn’t need to though, you could just have it as it’s own folder. You would just have to be conscious about not linking back to your PARA or Zettelkasten.

Oh That’s fine but I think you should not trust nested vaults for important Task management. I would like to see how it goes with your Obsidian PKM once it is evolved in real life.

Sure, I’ll come back here with updates as this evolves.

Would love to see this Hybrid in action!