3 reasons why API governance needs internal API advocacy


API governance aims to help people generate maximum value with APIs. But that will only work if people know what APIs are and how important they are, and also know that API governance exists and is there to help them in many ways, not police them. That’s why it’s crucial to include internal API advocacy in any API governance initiative.

There are three reasons why an API governance initiative must include API advocacy:

  • Raising API awareness
  • Demystifying governance and advertising how it can help concretely
  • Finding relays and sponsors to amplify the message

1. Raising API awareness

Trying to help people leverage APIs efficiently is useless if they don’t know what they are or do not grasp their importance, the benefits of taking them seriously, or the dreaded consequences of neglecting them. Though APIs are initially an IT topic, it’s not always fully understood by IT teams. It’s essential to make them realize how, from a pure IT perspective, APIs can help them, slow them down, or even put their systems at risk. But it’s also crucial to make them realize that APIs, even private ones, can impact their organization’s business. And speaking of business, it’s also important to talk about APIs with business people and executives. Making them understand that efficiently leveraging APIs means faster time to market or more revenues should have excellent effects.

2. Demystifying governance and advertising how it can help concretely

Beyond raising awareness, talking to people about what they can gain or lose by leveraging APIs efficiently or not is also the moment to tell them how you and API governance can help them. It’s the moment to demystify their assumptions and make them comfortable with API governance—showing them how you can help them concretely. Tell them what internal professional services you provide: API reviews, design workshops, or design training courses, for instance. Tell them where to find API documentation about avoiding and fixing usual problems or where to find complete API guidelines. And do not forget to demo the tools they can leverage: for example, many API problems can be avoided by automatically linting API definitions during design. They will undoubtedly be happy to learn they can avoid many issues without thinking about them.

3. Finding relays and sponsors to amplify the message

And last but not least, due to the reputation API governance can have, governance may only be welcomed in some places. Choose the battles you can win; these are the places to focus on first. The people you’ll find there could be API-savvy developers, tech leads, or architects already applying or willing to apply better practices, share their experience, or even contribute to governance. They can be managers that will tell their team to welcome you and listen to you. They can be business people and executives who will help open some doors. All these people will contribute to raising awareness about APIs and also help demonstrate the value of leveraging them efficiently. Ultimately, governance will be welcomed in more and more places because the people there will want to reproduce the API successes they’ve heard about.

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