API Integrations: How to Build Them Effectively
Application programming interface (API) integrations have become a vital component of modern business operations. They offer a wide range of benefits, from facilitating real-time data exchange to enabling end-to-end automation. In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, the question is not whether you should implement API integrations but how to do it effectively.
This article explores the concept of API integration and provides valuable tips for building successful integrations.
Understanding API Integration
API is the process of connecting different software applications and databases through their APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Once these systems are interconnected, data can flow seamlessly between them, ensuring that employees and partners have access to the information they need within the platforms they use.
To illustrate this, consider the following example:
Imagine you want to integrate your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, such as Salesforce, with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, like NetSuite, using their APIs. This integration would automatically transfer closed sales opportunities from the CRM to the ERP system.
Building API Integrations Effectively
To build API integrations effectively, follow these best practices:
Choose the Right Integration Solution
Select an integration solution that aligns with the deployment model of the applications you want to connect. If yours are on-premise applications, use an on-premise integration solution. For hybrid or cloud-based scenarios, opt for a cloud-based integration solution to optimise performance and scalability.
External Integration Logic Best Practice
Instead of embedding complex integration logic within your applications, use an integration middleware or a generic scripting language. This approach makes it easier to find resources to implement and maintain your integrations, and it ensures you don’t lose integration logic when changing applications.
Create Custom APIs to Access Critical Data
Building internal API endpoints for frequently used data can abstract away dependencies on vendor APIs. This reduces risk if you need to replace a source application.
For example, say multiple systems need to access cost centre records from a cloud ERP like Oracle NetSuite. You have two options:
i. Build a middleware API to retrieve the cost centre data
ii. Have each system access the Oracle NetSuite API directly
If Oracle NetSuite is later replaced, the middleware API in option one just needs to be updated to pull data from the new ERP. But in option two, every integration accessing the Oracle NetSuite API would need redevelopment.
Creating custom APIs decouples data consumption from underlying applications. This localisation reduces disruption if applications change in the future.
Document Your API Integrations Thoroughly
Maintain detailed documentation for each API integration. This documentation is essential for colleagues to understand and troubleshoot integrations effectively. Prioritise referencing the vendors’ API specifications to ensure clarity.
Leverage Near Real-Time Capabilities
APIs offer the advantage of near real-time data transfer. Design your API integrations to take full advantage of this capability, mainly when faster data movement results in more significant benefits. Consider using webhooks provided by applications to achieve real-time data updates.
Implementing API Integrations with Workato
Workato, a leader in enterprise automation, offers a powerful platform to simplify the process of building API integrations. It provides pre-built application connectors and automation templates, enabling your organisation to automate workflows end-to-end.
Workato’s platform offers the following key features:
A customisable platform bot for Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Workplace from Meta, allowing employees to trigger automation within their business communications platform.
Empower your team to develop, publish, and manage APIs.
Enables business teams to play a role in implementing and managing integrations and automation.
Enterprise-Grade Governance and Security Controls
Provides features like role-based access control, Automation HQ, and enterprise key management to ensure data security and compliance.
In conclusion, API integrations are a crucial part of today’s business landscape, enabling organisations to streamline operations and enhance productivity. By following best practices and leveraging modern integration platforms like Workato, you can successfully build API integrations that drive digital transformation and boost efficiency across your organisation.
So, don’t ask if you should implement API integrations; ask how you can do it effectively.