Throughout our years of expertise in integration and API development, we have often come across customers who have no API strategy and are unsure who owns it, designs it or implements it.
With a comprehensive API strategy, businesses can benefit from understanding the range and types of protocols available, while rapidly developing and deploying combinations without needing to re-architect their entire environment. Commercially, this means business leaders can quickly add new digital services. This provides added value to their customers, gains game-changing insights on their business operations and can significantly reduce business risk. All of this takes a simple orchestrated coordination of API development, that is all managed via an API strategy.
So how do you build a good API strategy? One of our most popular services is working across our customers’ businesses to develop and roll out their API strategy. In this blog, we outline some of the key fundamentals (not descending into the deep technical expertise required) of a successful API strategy. Here they are:
- Have the right people in the room: API’s sit across the whole company and are built and executed by the technical team. A comprehensive strategy will need to be reviewed and collaborated on by business unit owners and business process owners, which are then designed by Enterprise Architects who connect the business to the technical fundamentals and then built by the Developers. All of these domains need to review components of the strategy to identify opportunities and ensure feasibility, risk and cost considerations.
- Align it to the business goal: In the midst of a deep technical session, often we can lose sight of the bigger picture. Keeping a close hold on the business goal that the API system helps deliver can mean you don’t lose track or waste time building unnecessary API functionality. This will also guide the technical decisions about how to create and deploy APIs, such as API design attributes best capable of sharing the required data with internal or external users. A minimum viable product approach can often help ensure that business needs are met first.
- Have a good view of the infrastructure and data silos: API’s operate within the limits of the IT and business infrastructure. Depending on the complexity of the organisation, there could be a variety of data silos on-premise, in remote locations, or on various servers across the network that need to be considered. Understanding what APIs will be needed, resource availability, latency and performance will help define timelines, budgets and people power needed to roll it out.
In our API strategy engagements, we consider the whole business and align our API strategies to the data being ingested, the data being exposed, its physical and virtual location, and whether it’s sitting in siloed applications such as financial, operational or human resource systems. We would also consider and design for data sources (structured, unstructured, single-source or aggregated) and whether it’s local, remote or in the cloud as well as what other networking requirements are needed. Following that, we assess and build for API governance including policies, security and regulatory requirements.
Sounds complicated? Yep. Best to get an expert for this part.
- Start small. Demonstrate value: API’s can go far and wide across and externally to your organisation – so it’s best NOT to try and boil the ocean. Start small with internal API projects that have a low investment but a high value perception. This creates quick wins that can be communicated throughout the business (for future funding requests) to help accelerate adoption. Strategising for small API projects first also lets your team experiment and refine the components of API development such as design, security, testing and documentation. Small projects can also be guided and advised on by integration experts, such as IntegrationWorks Australia, with minimal cost investment. We can assist with a governance structure key to scaling out your API’s effectively.
- Strategise for scale: Once the organisation is hooked on the value of APIs, the surge in uptake and API requests is enormous. Where some of our customers go wrong is they veer from their original API strategy in order to meet the demands of the loudest business unit demanding their attention. A comprehensive API strategy will be designed to accommodate for this surge in demand, and will implement all of the right tools and backlog to manage prioritisation. Some of these considerations will include ticketing systems, resource allocation calculations, API-request and data sourcing documentation, security threat and risk review processes, performance analytics and new feature requests. This coordinated strategy will ensure that API’s are rolled out efficiently, in line with business goals, to ensure a quick deployment.
As businesses increasingly depend on software-based services to generate revenue, reduce risk and improve performance, the creation and maintenance of APIs has become a major part of business strategy.
A rich and diverse API ecosystem enables a business to access, protect, process and provide the reliable exchange of data across cloud, remote, on-premise and hybrid environments at scale and speed. Therefore, your API strategy needs to support these advancements.
If your organisation requires some external guidance and support to design your API strategy, please make contact with IntegrationWorks. We are also able to review your current API and integration architecture for configuration optimisation and performance health. Sign up here.