7 min read

Future-Proofing Your Business With API Governance

May 24, 2021 8:00:00 AM

In the race to get ahead of competitors, it can be easy to overlook the importance of API governance. As the beating heart of digital transformation strategies for companies, a structured oversight for APIs is essential. The role of a governance structure is to ensure existing APIs are: 

  • Discoverable
  • Standardized and regulatory compliant
  • Customizable
  • Secure 

In addition, proper API governance will make it easier for businesses to create new APIs for specific needs. The purpose is to formalize the API strategy, ensure high standards are met, and democratize the world of APIs beyond a select few IT specialists and engineers. 

There’s no denying that API governance enjoys a less than favorable reputation in some circles, seen as an inhibitor to growth and progress. However, as this post will illustrate, a well-crafted, customized strategy can pave the way to success by encouraging high standards and consistency. 

What Is API Governance?

API governance is a set of policies that help to standardize and streamline API operations. These policies encompass all the elements that make APIs work - data and metadata management, security, software, and usability. The idea is to ensure consistency across the API network, making it discoverable and usable to a broad range of stakeholders - from the workers to partners and customers. 

Businesses today use an average of 1,200 cloud apps to support their operations. Given the integral role APIs play in ensuring those apps can function, companies will be using hundreds of APIs daily, illustrating the importance of complete API governance. 

Best Practices in API Governance 

As the digital age gets into full flow, there’s never been a better time to devise and implement robust API governance. Developing a strategy that maintains the connectivity, quality, and security of APIs involves following best practices.

1. Set Up a Governance Board

To design and implement customized API governance, companies need to set up a team focused on developing a governance strategy. The role of such a team, or “Governance Board,” is to devise and enforce a set of policies that standardize API operations.  

The core team would be responsible for implementing API governance and ensure accountability, acting as a contact point for the wider company. Any issues that arise can be quickly addressed while maintaining consistency and high standards. The governance board’s oversight role is critical for the smooth running of the business as the network evolves with new APIs being added and old ones are taken away.

2. Centralize

The first step is to retain complete visibility over all the APIs. By using an advanced API management platform, companies can centralize their APIs and the associated processes. In doing so, teams will be able to easily locate, track, and manage APIs, as well as the data that feeds into them.  

Another key advantage is the ability to quickly duplicate and create new APIs for specific purposes according to the Governance Board’s standards. The single platform model enables easy and effective communication between the board and the wider business. 

3. Style Guides

Much like publishers and media corporations, a “style guide” is essential for consistency. Directed by the core team, the company will be guided on API development, coding, and tools to use. By setting a clear set of design guidelines, businesses can ensure high integration and synched processes.

4. Discoverability

An essential component of a successful API strategy is to know where they are or how to find them. A large part of ensuring discoverability is metadata management - effectively data that describes other data. For example, dates of when a file or program was made and where the data was sourced. A best practice here would be building and maintaining a standardized process for saving documents and locating them. 

While this is far from glamorous, it is one of the essential foundations for API governance. Finding, tracking, and developing APIs easily is one pathway to growth as companies seek to innovate and capitalize on emerging opportunities quickly.

5. Automation

Reducing the reliance on human input and automating API governance is one of the most effective ways of increasing implementation. Using tools like Universal Adapter’s advanced solution can automate many processes that drive APIs, such as data management, accessibility, and security. For instance, the process of duplicating and customizing new APIs within a set framework is one way of automating standardization.  

As APIs continue to evolve and new versions are extended, this process will be crucial to ensuring applying governance now and into the future. With an automatic validation and approval process, where specific rules must be met before new APIs are added, the company can reduce the risk of any governance breach.  

The reality is that API governance is nearly impossible to implement if a manual process drives it. Using software and a clearly defined set of rules, companies will drive up compliance and maintain the core set of standards. 

API Governance: Future-Proofing Your API Strategy 

Far from being a hindrance to development and growth, strong API governance can serve to be the foundation of a slick and smooth API operation, leading to growth. As technology and software continue to evolve at breakneck speed, it’s more important than ever to have a clear set of policies to guide the business in the digital era. 

At its core, a robust API strategy is based around communication and keeping those communication channels open. A governance structure should be built from within, not top-down. The governance board’s job is to coordinate the different elements of the company to benefit the API strategy. There is less likely to be resistance at the implementation stage by working on equal terms with other teams. 

The “buy-in” from fellow workers is critical to the success of API governance and, therefore, the wider business. It is vital to have a clear set of guidelines that can be applied automatically through tools like Universal Adapter. The core governance team has the opportunity to set up a framework that future-proofs the business. 

The key is to have the business objectives in mind when setting up the governance structure. It’s essential for workers and other stakeholders to see the value in API governance. Automation is also critical in a successful API strategy, where the rules are diligently enforced with minimal human input. The standardization of APIs is essential for digitized companies looking for growth and profitability. 

Peter Edlund

Written by Peter Edlund