A Small Business API Strategy

I've been moving forward with my efforts to better on-board folks with the sometimes overwhelming amounts of research available via API Evangelist. I have several groups looking for guidance on where to start with their strategy, as well as develop some lower level tactical approaches to propelling themselves forward in their API journey. I recently posted a master list of my essential building blocks across, 20+ areas of my research, and now I'm distilling these into a single project to help me move forward as one potential operational API strategy for a small businesses.

First i took the almost 1000 building blocks I've organized across my areas of API research, and added a question for each, which simply asks where things are with each of these potential considerations along the API life cycle. For this particular small business API strategy, I've opted to include discovery, definitions, design, hypermedia, DNS, deployment, virtualization, containers, management, documentation, SDK, embeddable, real time, webhooks, support, monitoring, testing, road map, authentication, security, terms of service, privacy, licensing, branding, monetization, plans, partners, and evangelism, covering 28 areas of the API life cycle that would be relevant to a small business.

The result is a pretty comprehensive API strategy that might help a small business adopt a more coherent framework for their own efforts--the problem is this can still be very high level thinking, and difficult to know where to get going on day one, what to do when you launch a new API, and other more tactical aspects of API operations.  To help me bring such a large, lofty API strategy down into the tactical weeds, I'm going to be applying it to my own, existing operations, and deriving a handful of tactical implementations:

  • Day One - Where do we begin, even with a legacy mess of systems, services, web services, and APIs?
  • New Portal - We need to launch our first portal, or possibly a new product, service, or group portal to support API operations.
  • New API - Wanting to kick off a new API, what should we be considering, and including in overall approach from design to management?
  • API Launch - Week of, day, off the launch for the new API, what should we be considering, from making sure monitors are up, to publishing a blog post.
  • Evangelism - What should be done regarding evangelism and outreach, across all areas of platform operations, giving me a single list of what I should be doing.
  • Weekly - What are my weekly considerations to help me course correct what I'm doing on the ground with my overall API strategy?
  • Monthly - What are my monthly considerations to help me course correct what I'm doing on the ground with my overall API strategy?

These are just six of the tactical areas I could use help with in my own operations, and are the key areas some of the organizations I'm talking with are looking for guidance as well. My objective is to establish a high level API strategy that a small business could apply to the 100K level, but also have lower level plans that can help small businesses get started on day one, launch their developer portals, establish a design first process that can be applied to any new APIs, and successfully launch new API efforts. I also threw in a general weekly, and monthly version as well, just to deal with the mundane aspects of API operations that we all kind of suck at--I know I do!

In this API strategy, building block, and question blueprint I've crafted, no tactical element can exist without being rooted in an overall strategic objective. My strategy goes well beyond being just an API design guide--it is meant to be my API operations guide, with tactical plays that are all in sync with my overall goals. As with everything on my API workbench, this small business APi strategy is ever evolving. I'm adding in more building blocks, and asking more questions as I actually apply to my own API operations, and those of folks I'm talking to, so check back often. 

Along with adding more building blocks, and questions to my strategy, I'm also planning on making it interactive, so you can actually answer the questions posed, and save within a public or private Github repository. This will allow anyone to come back often, and add to, or refine an API strategy. My API strategy tooling will possess a tactical plan manager, allowing for the creation of collections in these area, which can provide a framework for designing and deploying new APIs, surges in my API evangelism, or any of the other fast moving, ever changing aspects of API operations--all while keeping everything anchored in a big picture API strategy.