Forbes recently said the “API economy” is “much more than a buzz phrase.” The benefits of application programming interface (API) integration are seemingly limitless, and it’s no longer just web-based companies that are embracing the digital transformation.
API enables various applications to communicate continuously, letting workers glean the benefits of multiple cloud-based apps. API creation means developers can write codes and software using a pre-existing framework, allowing them to focus on the unique aspects of their applications instead of getting bogged down in technical tasks. This increases productivity and streamlines various business processes.
APIs provide other opportunities for an increase in revenue. They allow businesses to forge lucrative partnerships and monetize data, both of which open ample opportunities for future innovation and growth.
API integration is now fundamental to thrive, but it can be a complicated process. Below, we’ll go over some of the best practices for integrating with internal and external APIs.
Your integration plan should align with your overall business strategy, so find a project that can deliver clear, measurable value. Senior management, even outside of the IT department, should be on board with API integration. You’ll need to make sure they understand the long-term benefits to ensure your project gets adequate support and resources, and that everyone embraces the changes.
What bottlenecks can API integration solve? There are a lot of selling points. APIs connect different systems and applications. Integrations automate manual tasks to generate smoother transitions between applications, saving your business time and money. APIs make it easy to implement new applications and digital products, granting easier access to third-party products and services.
Sharing the benefits of APIs and finding ways to relate them specifically to your company’s goals ensures mutual cooperation, which can help foster a smooth transition.
Documentation should be accurate and easy to both understand and access. This is important not only for your API and development teams, but for your clients. Clients need an up-to-date document to reference if they have any issues with the API.
At minimum, documentation should include:
However, in general, the more the better when it comes to documentation. You can also include error scenarios, sample requests and responses, and even practical uses for API integration. For example, Twilio’s API documentation gives users a whole page of cases where their API was leveraged successfully.
When you are integrating data structures across systems, you need to make sure that the structures are compatible. If one system has longer fields, this could cause a loss of data through truncation. Further, data types and formats could differ. Integration needs to account for these differences and throughout the process.
Data synchronization and mapping can help an analyst ensure data fields are moved correctly between different systems.
To ensure successful integration, testing should happen on multiple levels. Even with skilled developers and proper communication across departments, things sometimes fall through the cracks. Not only should you fully unit test your API integration code using mocked responses, you should run end-to-end tests of all scenarios on your user interface.
Scrupulous testing reduces the risk of bugs being introduced to apps and makes it easier to pinpoint problems when they do occur. Testing can feel exhausting and sometimes even excessive, but it is worth it for a stable app and a better user experience overall.
To accurately track the success of API integration, you need to look at multiple angles. Go beyond metrics like the number of developers or the number of API calls. More metrics give you a fuller, more nuanced picture of how you’re doing and where there’s room for future improvement.
When tracking success, look at:
So, it is impossible to understate the importance of API integration for business growth in the coming years. The process of API-integration can be time-consuming and often challenging. Cooperation across multiple teams and rigorous data mapping, testing, and documentation help make API integration run as smoothly as possible, leaving your company poised for future growth.
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