APIs are very significant tools for developers. Sadly, there are teams that just don’t know how to manage them. This leads to broken APIs, data losses, downtimes, etc.
APIs are components that allow different applications to communicate with each other. What good are APIs if your team doesn’t know how to manage this communication bridge?
To help, I’ve curated a step-by-step strategy for product managers, web developers, and website owners to follow, to ensure the smooth running of their applications and systems.
What Is API Management?
API management refers to the stepwise plan of action that ensures the success of an API product, and the array around it. API management involves the process of creating, implementing, publishing, monitoring, and securing APIs. It also involves managing usage policies, authentication, and authorization.
It’s common practice for organizations to rush into creating API programs without taking a methodical and proven approach to that journey.
This lack of thoughtfulness results in disarray, with poor monitoring practices, redundancies, and obscured transparency canceling out the potential merits of having API ecosystems.
A recent study that examined the role of API adoption in digital transformation found that APIs are critical enablers of today’s digital transformation initiatives. According to the study, 71% of the surveyed organizations expect to see a rise in the volume of APIs calls by 2022
As someone involved in developing digital products, it is crucial to understand the rudiments of how APIs work and the necessary tools and resources needed for developing them.
With a deep understanding of the subject, you can address issues more effectively. You can learn the basics from the following sources:
- Orientation articles and videos for research
- Colleagues, friends, or forums
- Information or training from API providers
- Experiencing your product from a consumer’s perspective
2. Plan and Set Goals
Determine which issues need to be addressed first and establish clear milestones. You should prioritize the most straightforward tasks that have a high effect on accessibility. Your API DevOps can also be prioritized based on certain pages.
Establish how your APIs will assist in meeting the organization’s business outcomes. For example, are you trying to enhance the adoption of your products or accelerate your digital transformation efforts?
After identifying the intended outcomes, you should get executive alignment and backing around those business strategies.
Next, establish the target audience for your APIs and ensure it will meet their needs. Lastly, assess your existing IT estate, such as systems and applications, so that you can know what you need to build on or create from scratch.
3. Use a Comprehensive API Platform
You need a comprehensive API platform that allows you to manage and combine APIs at scale effectively. With a good API management platform, you can pinpoint the many day-to-day administrative pain points of consuming APIs and ensure their smooth adoption.
Some of the benefits of using an API management tool include having centralized visibility into the performance of APIs, assisting in API analysis and monitoring, helping in publishing and discovery of APIs, improving API security, enhancing API governance, and more. It’s what you need to make the tasks of managing your APIs lean and efficient.
4. Allocate Resources
Be sure that resources, including budgets, are clearly defined and secured for the development and maintenance of an API ecosystem. Reviews, trainings, audits, and testing with users are all part of this process.
- API goals and the extent of work required to achieve them determine your budget and resource requirements. Consider what resources will be needed for all activities and ensure that they are available. Among the things to consider are:
- Reviews of policies and procedures
- API monitoring – Determine how frequently and how comprehensive they should be.
- Platforms and services – Adapting or possibly replacing content authoring tools, such as the content management system (CMS), and having API monitoring and evaluation tools available.
- Staff training – This includes raising awareness and specific training tailored to the requirements of particular activities, such as web development or content creation.
5. Create a Policy Framework for Handling APIs
To establish and maintain an API ecosystem, you need to create a policy framework for it. Additionally, include the goals from your API policy in other procedures and policies. As a result, responsibility will be spread, and API management will become an integral part of daily life.
Here are a few examples of how incorporating API management can be beneficial:
- Document publishing process: Include API checks in the workflow of your development process so that best practices remain followed and APIs stay functioning.
- Procurement process: Include API management criteria in quotes and contracts to notify suppliers of your needs.
- Quality assurance: As part of the quality assurance cycle, track API issues in an issue tracking system and allocate resources.
6. Update Resources and API Docs to Adapt to Changes in Systems
Version updates can introduce API issues and offer opportunities for improvement. Identify problems and solutions by monitoring changes.
You should consider what technologies you intend to support, and ensure that you track functionality that changes with each version. The list will include the base browsers and web technologies you support, as well as the authoring tools you use, such as your content management system.
Add updated browser support and API monitoring to the website development list. The new versions will include new features and improved support for existing standards. You might need to do additional work to utilize the API upgrades provided by this new version.
Additionally, new versions of your authoring tools may provide additional API features you can use. For content authors to use new features, updated training or extra training may be needed.
Regularly review your website content as it changes. Reduce the risk of API issues by including API checks during the publishing process. Additionally, you should provide a template for reporting issues and a consistent method of evaluation.
Comparing findings will help identify trends across websites or teams and assist in management reporting activities.
- Assess the progress made towards your API objectives based on your assigned responsibilities and planned schedule. This includes progress on:
- Number of APIs being developed
- Procedures and policies to be implemented
- Training and knowledge sharing for staff
- Understanding and implementing an organizational culture
Lastly, consider these questions:
- Is there a lack of training among staff members causing issues?
- Are they the result of a change in the content management system (CMS)?
- Do you have any questions about the publishing process?
API management should be a part of the process of developing digital products primarily because it is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves to have a seamless web experience and you shouldn’t deny them such with broken APIs. By integrating API checks into every step of your development process, you can deliver functioning products consistently.