Payments companies that are managing growing API landscapes must consider all the different moving pieces. Here is a look at four important API portfolio considerations to take into account.
Managing and supporting an API program within a payments organization often requires a lot of change. Choosing the types of APIs that will compose the API portfolio, managing API lifecycles, and creating an API governance model are all important considerations for payments companies to achieve their strategic goals while removing obstacles that may stand in the way of those goals.
This article looks at four important API considerations for organizations that are managing API portfolios, including how to most effectively manage APIs both as individuals and as a portfolio.
Payments companies that are just launching an API program may minimize variance across API formats. Limiting variety and maintaining similar implementation and design details for APIs can streamline deployment as teams can set their sites on functionality rather than debating different implementation ideologies. As an API portfolio grows and as teams and programs mature, it will likely become necessary to add variety into an API landscape to accommodate special use cases and customer needs. With time, emerging technologies and evolving preferences will also call for a more nuanced API landscape. Keeping a watchful eye on governance and design guidance can provide key signals that it’s time to add variety; when the two seem to be in opposition, it may be time to update guidelines.
Just as with variety, the number of published APIs will typically start small and be seamlessly managed from a central location. As an organization increases the number of services and as the API program matures, this central source will probably not scale. Instead, review, approval, and management responsibilities will likely be distributed out to a larger group of both engineers and software architects. As the number of APIs increases and as the management circle widens, organizations must adapt guidelines and governance accordingly.
As an API portfolio and program matures, the ability to garner insights and maintain visibility across the entire ecosystem becomes more burdensome. There are certain insights that should be tracked over time, including:
Tracking these insights can help teams understand when certain APIs may need to be retired or at least updated. Just as with the other considerations, this becomes increasingly complex as the API landscape grows. What may begin as spreadsheet tracking and gateway logs will likely need to evolve into an automated process that includes real-time reporting to manage and monitor service performance and deployment status.
Depending on the complexity of a payments company’s API organization, governance may need to be distilled into distinct categories to ensure that APIs deliver the intended value without ending up in conflict. This article highlights how categorizing API governance into four buckets can help ease any contention that may exist between goals. Those four categories include:
API program governance: This includes defining the overarching API strategy and ensuring it aligns with the organization’s business goals and organizational dynamics. This effort is typically spearheaded by API program leadership or an API “Center for Enablement” (C4E).
API product governance: This includes lifecycle management for individual APIs to ensure they continue to meet business objectives by measuring API products against the business model. API product teams API product managers are usually in charge of API product governance.
API portfolio governance: API portfolio governance focuses on managing an organization’s superset of API products to ensure that product teams are not duplicating efforts or opening up vulnerabilities and that developer experiences remain consistent. Early-stage API portfolio governance normally falls under the C4E umbrella of responsibility.
API platform governance: This area of governance focuses on enforcing policies for the other three buckets of governance as well as leveraging automation and digital capabilities to boost resilience, security, and stability within the operational environment. C4E also takes ownership of this category in the early stages.
As conflict will tend to happen between these areas (rather than within them), this categorization can aid in the creation of a holistic API governance model that minimizes friction while maintaining clear ownership roles.
Whether an organization is managing just a few APIs or hundreds or thousands, challenges will arise along the way. Being cognizant of the considerations outlined above can streamline growth and efficiency as a company adds more APIs and teams to the ecosystem.