Top 5 Common API Management Mistakes to Avoid Posted in Platforms Alfrick Opidi July 28, 2020 To make the most of internal APIs as well as external API subscriptions, enterprises have resorted to various API management solutions. These solutions help in creating, implementing, publishing, securing, monitoring, and managing APIs. However, many enterprises fail to maximize the value of API management platforms due to some common mistakes. In this article, we discuss the following top five API management mistakes, and how to avoid them: Lack of executive support Unsupportive organization structure Lack of education and awareness Poor API platforming Insufficient peripheral tooling 1. Lack of Executive Support Executive support is integral to the success of consuming and managing APIs. While APIs are usually seen within the realm of developers, the leadership should be the driving force behind their adoption within an organization. Otherwise, APIs, and the activities related to their management, can be seen as needless and wasteful. With a supportive environment initiated by the executive leaders, everyone’s perception can change to see APIs as essential for a company’s digital transformation initiatives. It’s what is needed to break the misconceptions and cultural silos that usually prevent the successful implementation of API systems. Management support is critical in recruiting the right talent to advance the organization’s API strategy, incentivizing developers to accelerate the use of APIs, and providing adequate resources for managing APIs. For example, APIs are integral to Microsoft’s corporate strategy, which is one of the reasons for the company’s increased dominance in the tech space. “Right now we are API-ing every layer, celebrating any use anywhere and knowing we’ll have more opportunities in the future,” said Satya Nadella, the CEO at Microsoft. 2. Unsupportive Organization Structure Lack of a supportive organization structure is another mistake that impedes the success of API management efforts. A decentralized organization structure in which API teams have the independence to choose their tools, define their tech stack, and make decisions based on their experiences, can support the growth of an API program. In a decentralized structure, the greater autonomy leads to more efficient decision making, fast and smooth onboarding of new developers, and enhanced team agility. Furthermore, since teams are encouraged to be self-sufficient, this type of organization model can result in the sense of ownership, which is essential for empowering and uplifting their morale. On the contrary, a centralized structure, where all the decisions are made strictly by the top-level management, may not allow APIs to live happy lives. This setup creates communication hurdles and inflexibilities that can affect the teams’ productivity and obscure the API implementation and management lifecycle. For the success of an API ecosystem, the team should consist of loosely coupled and independent three to seven members, each representing various perspectives, such as API creation, governance, and marketing. With these broad roles, you can achieve autonomy while simultaneously applying API standards, policy governance, or regulation compliance across the entire organization. According to a study by Quantitative Software Management, which analyzed 491 projects to find the ideal team size for a software project, 3–7 person team produces the best results. 3. Lack of Education and Awareness Lack of education and awareness initiatives can also impair your API management goals. Such efforts can ensure everyone in the organization appreciates the benefits of the API product, and how they can support its growth. To enhance the awareness of your API integration strategies, you can organize workshops and seminars that train employees on the importance of APIs, create courses that demonstrate the best practices for adopting APIs, release periodic newsletters that showcase the achievements made by consuming APIs and more. With sufficient education and awareness programs, everyone can understand the values APIs bring, making managing them much easier and rewarding. It’s a great way of achieving API management success. Furthermore, you can engage in API evangelization and marketing to create interest in its offerings and accelerate its usage within the developer community. Evangelization will enable you to interact with the ecosystem around the internal or external APIs and get useful feedback for gauging whether they are bringing value. Promoting awareness is also an excellent way to find loopholes in your API techniques and address them before developers start abandoning the API. 4. Poor API Platforming According to a recent study, most enterprises deploy more than 300 APIs. This proliferation in the use of APIs has resulted in a severe challenge: poor management of APIs. Without a robust platform for managing APIs, the integration efforts are thrown into disarray, which could cancel out the potential benefits of adopting APIs. An API platform helps in managing and coalescing APIs at scale. It is useful in abstracting the many day-to-day administrative pain points of integrating APIs. It can help you to increase the visibility into the performance of your pool of APIs and ensure their smooth consumption. With a good API management platform, you can have centralized governance into your APIs, understand their evolving requirements, and enhance their security. If you have a wholesome view of your APIs, you can analyze and monitor their usage faster and respond to any integration challenges. So, to avoid making an API management mistake, you should choose the right platform that comes with comprehensive capabilities for making the tasks of managing your APIs streamlined, lean, and efficient. 5. Insufficient Peripheral Tooling If you have a great API, but you do not have sufficient peripheral tooling that explains how to use it, your efforts may be wasteful. By including additional toolsets around the API life cycle, you can make it easy to use and manage. Documentation is an essential resource to explain how to make use of the API. With API documentation, you can give details on the services the API offers, how to incorporate its endpoints into various use cases, and other integration directions. If there is easy-to-grasp and up-to-date API documentation, in case there is any challenge, solving it becomes smooth. For example, when monitoring an API usage and you notice an abnormal spike in traffic in one of its endpoints, you can check the resources at the developer support center to try to dig the cause of the anomaly. You can also provide tutorials, integration samples, and other materials that enhance the implementation of your API product. With such additional resources, you can ensure that both the internal and public APIs are consumable and manageable. Final Thoughts Avoiding the above API management mistakes can help you realize the value you initially envisioned with your API program. As a result, you can wedge new pathways for innovation and growth, integrate powerful functionalities with fewer resources, enhance your digital transformation efforts, and more. Which of the above mistakes prevents you from making the most of your APIs? Please provide your comment below.