Software Development5 Things You Need To Consider When Doing Custom API Development

5 Things You Need To Consider When Doing Custom API Development

Modern business runs on software. But as the importance of gathering, analyzing, and transforming data into useful insights grows, businesses need to ensure their software communicates effectively and securely.

What Is An API?

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are a set of rules and guidelines that enable software to exchange data and collaborate.

They are sometimes thought of as integrations, as they often allow two pieces of software to functionally interact by, for example, sharing data.

Why Do You Need Custom API Development?

While plenty of common software already possesses APIs needed to communicate with other common programs, there are limits.

Businesses using custom solutions or who simply have a complex set of software that needs to work together will need to develop custom API integrations to ensure all of these programs work together seamlessly.

Another consideration is the time saving capabilities of custom APIs. Often, they will replace manual data entry processes that are slow, expensive, and more prone to human error.

When the quantity of your data increases alongside the quality you need from that data, a custom solution becomes more valuable.

5 Things To Consider When Doing Custom API Development

Owing to the time and resources needed to create a robust custom API, it’s absolutely vital to enter the process with a clear understanding of what is involved.

Understand Your Audiences Needs

Understanding these 5 elements will help ensure you have time, money, and get the greatest functionality out of your solution.

Understand Your Audience’s Needs

A large part of the value brought by a custom solution is its ability to be tailored to your specific needs.

Whether that’s increased security for sensitive information or simply controlling precisely how your software communicates, the best solutions derive from a solid understanding of what’s needed.

That said, it’s also easy to get bogged down trying to develop “nice to have” functionalities and lose sight of your core needs.

That’s why this step should go beyond simply building a wishlist and really narrow in on what is needed to deliver value to that APIs key stakeholders.

Define Your Business Objectives

At the end of the day, API development isn’t really about enabling software to communicate, it’s about doing so to further business objectives.

Keeping that end goal in mind is crucial for avoiding scope creep and generally focusing your efforts on delivering the value that matters.

The process of defining the objectives you want to achieve should be done with the team that will be developing the API to ensure all the costs and limitations are taken into account.

Otherwise, you may end up requesting features that provide limited value but will require extensive resources to develop.

It Takes Time

While API integrations are generally massive time savers, their development process itself will usually take at least a few months.

It’s important to be clear about timetables and, if necessary, integrate those timetables into an agreement with your development partner. 

Just be mindful of the classic trade-off between speed, quality, cost. You can usually save on two of those factors, but not all three, so consider which is most important for your needs.

Include Documentation

Include Documentation

Even the best API integrations aren’t going to last forever. Inevitably, the software you use, the way that software functions, or the data you need to collect will change and it will be necessary to update your API. 

Ensuring you obtain all the documentation possible about how the APIs function will enable you to make future updates and improvements with minimal cost.

Otherwise, you risk ending up in a situation where such updates become extremely difficult and expensive.

Be Ready To Adapt To Changes

As mentioned, when it comes to software and API needs, change is inevitable. One of the biggest mistakes many organizations make is not planning for that change from the beginning.

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Often it can make sense to invest more resources into custom API development to ensure it’s capable of being easily updated into the future rather than saving on a less adaptable solution.

Making A Decision

After you’ve carefully considered the 5 factors outlined above, you’ll be ready to select a partner and begin the API development process.

Just bear in mind that software development is not a linear process. Most software development today is built on some form of Agile methodology and is designed to develop with regular feedback from the customer.

This means you will likely be involved throughout the process, ensuring the API you end up with meets your needs.

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