Delight customers, and stay ahead of competitors by selecting the right API management partner. Questions to ask, must-haves for partners, and what to do after you’ve built your shortlist.
In 2020, global businesses advanced their technologies by an average of seven years. While the shift was born out of necessity due to the complications of Covid-19, these advances have led to a persistent change in consumer and employee expectations.
Customers now expect more companies to cater to them digitally and employees have grown accustomed to more flexible work environments, both of which require novel use of technology and real-time access to data and services. Enter: the API.
APIs provide scalable solutions to unique business needs, and when designed, implemented, secured, and managed properly, can save your business countless resources while providing delightful experiences for end users and consumers. However, if APIs are treated as an afterthought, they could end up having the opposite effect, allowing your competitors to capitalize on your downfall.
This is why selecting the right API management partner is so important.
What is an API management partner?
An API partner is an organization that helps you design, manage, secure, and deploy your APIs. Depending on your business or use case, they may also need to help you productize and monetize your APIs. These partners could take the form of a professional services provider, SaaS provider, or a mixture of both.
Why you need an API management partner
Securing an API management partner is a great way to proactively address the needs of rapidly changing customer behavior, force multiplied by the new ways people work. They help you develop solutions that are easy to manage, built to scale, and compliant with data protection and cybersecurity best practices.
Top three questions to ask before selecting a partner
How are APIs used by your business today?
When selecting a partner for API management, it is important to understand how your business uses APIs to accomplish certain operations.
Are they a mix of internal and external APIs?
Are APIs approached as products or as integration bricks?
What is their frequency of use?
Do your APIs collect or share sensitive data?
Are your APIs being monetized in any way?
A good API partner should be able to adapt their solutions to your unique needs and facilitate the implementation of a comprehensive management strategy.
What is the current state of your API ecosystem?
You’ll also want to run an audit of the types of APIs your business uses (public, private, partner, or composite) and what resources you have dedicated to their development, security, governance, and documentation.
Additionally, you should document the different API architectures your business uses, as this will help you develop a more sustainable management strategy.
How will an API partnership benefit your business?
Consider the primary users of your APIs, the problems they are looking to solve, and the processes you’re trying to make more efficient.
Are there bottlenecks in your current API ecosystem?
Can APIs become a revenue source for your business?
Are developers spending more time addressing the issues of your API ecosystem and less time on product development?
What information or services could you deliver faster to customers with better API management?
Answering these questions will simplify the selection process for an API management partner and allow you to prioritize projects that will have the greatest impact for your business.
Must-haves for a viable API management partner
While not an exhaustive list, you should consider these minimum requirements for any API partner you’re evaluating:
API partners that use a design-first approach will strengthen the connection between all stakeholders, ensure a desirable and engaging experience for all parties, and make sure that APIs are truly fit-for-purpose, ultimately leading to better products and services for your consumers at faster time to delivery.
Comprehensive API management
A strong API partner will facilitate comprehensive API management that considers all aspects of the API management lifecycle. This includes design, access, security, governance, documentation, testing, deployment, and productization.
Observing the usage of your APIs in real-time is critical to understanding their frequency of use, mitigating risks, and proactively identifying any suspicious behaviors. Monitoring this data will help guide future business decisions and may uncover additional revenue opportunities for your business.
Protocol and style flexibility
Designing your APIs with event-driven and asynchronous systems in mind is a great way to proactively future-proof your applications and infrastructure.The basic advantages are as follows:
Avoid needing to “rip and replace” “legacy” technologies
Easily adjust to meet demand
Quickly expand and expose APIs and services
Modernize at a speed that fits your business
What to do after you’ve built your shortlist?
After narrowing down your selection criteria and developing a shortlist of potential partners, you should determine your kick-off date, develop your evaluation team, and schedule demos with
vendors. Additionally, you should create an assessment document with priority areas identified and different weighting in place to help speed up the process.
In certain cases, you may also want to initiate a formal request for proposal process and set aside times for your evaluation team to meet, review proposals, and score based on your business goals, budget, and preferences.
During this process, you should also request any case studies or references prospective partners can share, research sites like Sourceforge or other review sites, and speak to multiple levels of the API partner’s team to understand their full capabilities.
This mix of quantitative and qualitative data will ensure a much higher level of success when you make your final selection, and reduce your time to kick-off.
By Frances Ferguson, Director of Channels, America, Gravitee.