Create Effective Feedback Loops for Better API Governance


Healthy API governance initiatives at the enterprise level require effective feedback loops that power the business flywheel. This means leveraging artifacts that act as API contracts for every resource and capability of the enterprise across many relevant domains supporting API governance. And that API governance needs to be aligned with overall business objectives.

Like APIs themselves, the governance of APIs is an ongoing and iterative process. It requires API champions within an org and machine-readable processes—together producing repeatable outcomes that are observable at scale. Leadership then has the awareness and control necessary to steer the business engine in the right direction by producing and consuming just the right digital resources and capabilities.

Leverage artifacts as the gears of API governance

API operations are defined by the feedback loops between producer and consumer, as well as the feedback loops within and across the teams of an enterprise. These feedback loops become much more precise and effective when we include the artifacts that are in use across operations. We need to  consider all the discussions and ultimately the feedback that ends up part of the road map in the technical specifications provided by OpenAPI, AsyncAPI, JSON Schema, and Postman Collections used across the API lifecycle. This ensures that feedback is associated with not only the artifacts that guide the surface area of each API, but also the lifecycle around those APIs. It’s important that the work put into designing, mocking, documenting, deploying, testing, and monitoring APIs is properly observed. Also, since machine-readable artifacts and contracts may change into newer versions across the API lifecycle, it’s important to observe and understand those changes over time to guide the overall health of our enterprise systems.

Find opportunities through design reviews

When a company implements regular API design reviews as part of the development, delivery, and sustainment of APIs and microservices, it can process API contracts under development more efficiently. This opens up a window to provide relevant feedback to continuously improve the overall API governance effort—while also educating and developing internal capacity when it comes to API governance across teams. API design reviews inject API governance into the ongoing software development and API lifecycle, and they can help produce much higher-quality APIs that are compliant with overall governance, enable and educate across teams when it comes to best practices for API governance, and gather the feedback needed to improve an organization’s API governance. By optimizing API governance observability, leadership has the awareness needed to shift behavior on the ground across teams when needed.

Mine value from discussions

Developers constantly engage via email, Slack, Teams, GitHub, and other common discussion channels already in place across today’s organizations. All of these discussion channels have APIs and provide an opportunity to power portions of the API governance feedback loop within an organization. These feedback loops are increasingly becoming more closely aligned with artifacts that are driving the API lifecycle, occurring as part of the design and iteration of OpenAPI, AsyncAPI, JSON Schema, as well as Postman Collections, just as they are used for documentation, mocking, and testing of APIs. When you have these artifact-driven discussions occurring asynchronously within API workspaces organized by a business domain, you end up with a pretty effective feedback loop for the road map of each API and collectively across APIs. Having discussions about the creation, iteration, and application of API artifacts across the API lifecycle in existing channels helps support a common roadmap and provides wider observability for the overall API governance evolving across all teams.

Strengthen the champions

The feedback loop around API governance only becomes an effective business flywheel when there are champions involved in the process from across all levels of operations. Feedback loops need to flow into leadership and at the architectural levels informing the overall strategy, but they also need to flow at the team and business levels. This ensures that all stakeholders in the API lifecycle have access to the discussions and have a voice in those discussions. These feedback loops are all about the exchange of ideas across the API lifecycle within specific domains, but also generally across API operations and governance. This leads to an ongoing recruitment element making sure there is always a steady flow of champions coming out of teams and business units at the lower levels. At the upper level, it makes sure leadership is involved when it comes to understanding the realities of operating APIs and microservices within domains and across teams. By continuously grooming the next generation of API governance champions, you maintain forward motion of API governance and achieve the levels of saturation needed across an organization to maintain fresh, innovative talent.

Remember that API governance is an iterative journey

API governance is an iterative journey: it requires the initial development of guidance and rules to provide the needed constraints across domains, and then a constant reevaluation of what governance is and how it is applied by champions across all levels, teams, and domains. A platform-led API governance strategy emphasizes an approach built upon artifacts and feedback loops to ensure that API operations are as defined as they possibly can be while remaining flexible to the change and velocity that happens over time. This requires observability across the definition, design, documentation, testing, and monitoring across the API lifecycle along with human feedback spanning that lifecycle. By establishing awareness and reporting, we can get what we need to properly plan, respond, and iterate on the API resources and capabilities required to do business. Overall API governance is put in place to enable the productivity needed while not compromising quality along the way.

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