In my previous blog post, I’ve already touched upon two key questions to consider when planning the APIfication of your business. Let’s have a look now at the third and final question that needs proper answering before you can really proceed with any API project.
After the what and the why are firmly in place, you can move on to the how. To begin with, the analysis needed to deploy your organisation’s APIfication strategy can only be provided by highly skilled staff. In other words, a staff that is able to translate your business requirements into IT requirements and to put into practice an enterprise architecture roadmap, covering all the critical issues in this kind of project (most of them pointed out by me in my posts here). Thus, I strongly recommend working with the experts on your staff - if you have them, that is. And if not, to hire the specialised services an external provider such as Sopra Steria can supply.
Adopting a methodological approach
A methodological way of working never hurts a project, too, of course. In this sense, following an API-led connectivity paradigm is a good choice, as it unlocks data from your backend systems, composes information adapted to your specialised business processes, and allows you to build customised end-user applications by categorising your APIs into one of these three types:
- System APIs: decouple backend systems and provide an isolation of their complexity, while offering other features such as reusability in multiple projects, services, and/or applications.
- Process APIs: focused on business processes and built on top of system APIs, they are insulated from complexities and changes in the underlying systems.
- Experience APIs: designed for specific applications.
By building and organising your APIs in such a way, you allow the teams throughout your organisation to compose, recompose, and adapt these APIs to address the changing needs of your business. And in today’s competitive environment this could mean the difference between success and failure.
Managing your API lifecycle
Another critical point is how to manage your API lifecycle or, in other words, what happens with your APIs from their creation to their retirement. This process, referred to as API Governance, involves designing, publishing, documenting, securing and analysing APIs. As is shown below, there are a lot of tasks to be executed in the management of your API lifecycle. So, once again, it is advisable to use a methodology focused on flexibility and value delivery. A methodology also that relies on an intensive use of PoC (Proof of Concept) prototyping and, if possible, end-user involvement.
Planning for success
Clearly, planning is the key to successfully deploying an APIfication strategy. You must strongly assess your current IT processes, so that you can modify them or define new ones for your API lifecycle governance. This should also allow you to establish KPI mechanisms for success evaluation. Additionally, new resources should be provided and features to be APIfied need to be prioritised, all while maintaining the alignment with your company’s wider business objectives. Finally, some technology issues should be formally recorded or captured in standards, design guides and, most importantly, in documentation about how to use your APIs (remember the criticality of getting your developers to develop applications that will give added value to your company’s products and/or services).
Conclusion: bridging the gap
Deploying an API strategy is a complex process involving your whole organisation, as it requires you to align your business and your technology strategies. Enterprise Architects can assist you in bridging that gap. Therefore their expertise is really critical to your success.
At Sopra Steria, we encourage our customers to follow a methodological approach to APIfication, covering at least the key issues that are considered throughout my posts here. These can be summarised in three main steps:
In these blog posts I have just touched upon the basics of APIfication. Please feel free to contact me or my colleagues, if you would like to discuss this in more detail.
- Align your company strategy with your API strategy and define a roadmap for APIfication.
- Deploy a pilot to test your APIs and define and refine your processes so they are optimised to deliver value.
- Once the pilot is successful, push the API adoption through your company.