The Software AG Guide to API Management Implementation

Discover what it takes for a successful rollout of your API program

Streamline the implementation of API Management with our step-by-step guide

API management is a vital component for organizations to effectively handle and optimize their APIs. With a solid approach in place, you’ll be better positioned to generate new products and sources of value faster, gain insights into API usage, and maintain control over access and security. 

Whether you are new to implementing API management and looking to skill up your development team or have an established center of excellence, a well thought out approach to implementation will set you up for success from day-one. The purpose of this guide is to provide you with a path to implementation that aligns API best practices with your organization’s business goals and considers the common risks and pitfalls you want to avoid. You’ll discover what it takes to:

  • Phase 1: Purchase. Understand the implications of different API hosting options to make a more informed decision that will help you reduce your organization’s operations and costs.
  • Phase 2: Plan. Discover which API journey is best for your organization. Do your implementation goals align to your business objectives? 
  • Phase 3. Implement. Consider the APIs, use cases, and security requirements to be managed. How will this impact your implementation?
  • Phase 4: Adopt. Create a communication rollout to promote adoption of your APIs in your organization and to partners/customers. How does your implemented API solution impact different stakeholders in your organization?
  • Phase 5: Measure. Optimize your APIs by setting key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned to your business objectives. What metrics are most meaningful to your organization?
  • Phase 6: Realize. Use analytics to measure your control points and realize value from implementing your API platform. Is your organization set up to grow value over time?

By following this implementation guide, you will unlock the full potential of your APIs, drive business growth, and remain competitive in today's digital landscape.


Phase 1: Purchase

Your implementation starts with your purchase. Knowing how you plan to host your solution is a critical decision that will significantly impact your organization's operations and costs.
Consider the following:
  • What are the total costs of ownership associated with each hosting option?
  • What level of scalability and reliability does your API Management solution require?
  • What does disaster recovery and business continuity look like for each hosting option?
  • Does your organization have specific compliance requirements?
  • How critical is it to your organization to deploy and update your API Management solution quickly?

Selecting the right API management platform will help align your specific requirements and business objectives to your platform’s capabilities forming the foundation of your API strategy. Different platforms offer varying features and functionalities, so it's important to evaluate platforms based on your specific needs, such as scalability, security, analytics, developer portal, and integration capabilities.

Even more importantly, the way you install your platform impacts your total cost of ownership and is one of the first critical decisions to make. Implementation costs include the initial setup of your solution as well as maintenance and ongoing operational expenses. Consider the operational risks you are willing to take versus what your vendor can provide for you. Ownership costs will vary depending on desire for on-premises infrastructure, SaaS subscriptions, and multi-cloud solutions.

For example, on-premises installations offer greater control over infrastructure and data which works well for organizations with specific security or compliance requirements, but they come with higher upfront and ongoing costs associated with hardware procurement, maintenance, scalability challenges, and the need for skilled IT personnel to manage and troubleshoot the system. Additionally, on-premises installations may require periodic updates and upgrades, which can further increase the operational overhead for the organization.

On the other hand, cloud-based installations provide scalability, flexibility, and offloading of maintenance tasks to your provider. A SaaS model allows you to explore platforms that offer rapid deployment, scalability, and reduced operational overhead and is particularly beneficial for organizations looking for quick adoption, cost-effectiveness, and seamless updates without having to manage the underlying infrastructure. The same can also be said for hybrid environments, however, proper planning and architecture design are crucial to ensure a successful hybrid deployment.

Finally, consider integration capabilities with your existing systems, developer experience and productivity tools, analytics and reporting capabilities, support for different authentication mechanisms, documentation generation, and community support. Review your objectives and use these criteria to choose the platform that best fits your needs.

On the other hand, cloud-based installations provide scalability, flexibility, and offloading of maintenance tasks to your provider. A SaaS model, like, allows you to explore platforms that offer rapid deployment, scalability, and reduced operational overhead and is particularly beneficial for organizations looking for quick adoption, cost-effectiveness, and seamless updates without having to manage the underlying infrastructure. The same can also be said for hybrid environments, however, proper planning and architecture design are crucial to ensure a successful hybrid deployment.

Finally, consider integration capabilities with your existing systems, developer experience and productivity tools, analytics and reporting capabilities, support for different authentication mechanisms, documentation generation, and community support. Review your objectives and use these criteria to choose the platform that best fits your needs. 


Phase 2: Plan

By now you’ve made some critical decisions about your API program, but now it’s time to plan how you want to align your business goals with the outcome you want to achieve.
Consider the following:
  • What are the specific goals and objectives of implementing an API Management solution?
  • How will API implementation impact different stakeholders?
  • What use cases, or scenarios are you considering for this implementation?

Planning starts with having a clear vision of the experience you want to provide your customers or partners. Starting with the end in mind will help you reduce complexity and make it easier for these groups to engage with you. Creating a level of separation, or decoupling, from what you want to offer your end-users to what you present internally to your organization ensures your business goals set to deliver on your expected outcomes. Moreover, it forms the starting point from which your plan develops.

Next, identify your key stakeholders. Gather their requirements and work with them to better understand how the solution will impact different audiences. Start small with focused attention on the business unit level, or initial stakeholders. This will help you to avoid stakeholder sprawl and give your plan more focused attention within your organization.

Use this API management implementation stakeholder checklist to define team members roles and responsibilities:

  1. Identify personas (e.g., API Product Manager, API Platform Administrator, API Developer, API Consumer, Forensics Analyst etc.)
  2. Map functions: What a stakeholder needs versus how the team will address these requirements.
  3. Think Governance
    • What are the specific governance objectives for the API Management solution?
    • Who will be responsible for governing APIs within the organization?
    • What is the process for API design and documentation?·
    • How can I audit and assess API usage?
    • How do I ensure security policies are consistently applied? Anomalies report?

Once you have consulted with your stakeholders, establish API design and development best practices for your organization. Ideally, your approach should match your organization’s culture as your journey with API management is unique to your organization. If this is new territory for your organization, work with your vendor’s professional services or customer success teams to determine your approach. Advisory Sessions are a great way to address specific business topics, or leverage services to get started quickly.  

Depending on the complexity of your solution, you may want to first establish API management in a Center of Excellence, with governance and controls in place, and allow your team to build up the capability throughout the implementation. Another path may be to jump right in and start developing while you build up best practices. This approach may be well-suited for more agile teams looking to get started quickly while building a governance framework. Or start with defined business outcome, and incrementally plan to create best practices over time.

Finally, we recommend that you review your plan and identify potential risks and challenges upfront with an experienced advisor. Talk to your vendor’s services team to collaborate with your team and stakeholders to develop a risk management plan and be prepared to handle changes as they arise.  
Tips to mitigate risks
  • Consider early on the security measures you need to keep your data safe.
  • Plan for a thorough testing and quality assurance period during your implementation – this is one area that you do not want to overlook.
  • Ensure scalability and performance optimization as part of your plan, rather than an afterthought.
  • Establish backup and disaster recovery mechanisms so if your business is impacted, you can continue to run your business with minimal impact to your customers.

Phase 3: Implement

The implementation phase of your API management platform is pivotal in realizing your business objectives, requiring careful consideration of best practices and strategic planning. It’s in this phase where your plans are architected into reality. As you embark on this journey, ensure you address these key aspects:
Setting the foundation

Begin by evaluating your vendor's best practice approach to implementation and defining the governance and policies you'll apply. Establishing your best practices early is key to successful implementation. Your professional services experts or certified delivery partner can help you think through key activities like gauging anticipated API traffic and usage patterns or establishing test and verification strategies. All of which, considered early, ensures a robust solution.  

Crafting the framework

Identify the initial APIs for management and establish API governance and policies to become the framework underpinning your API program.  Lean on your vendor’s professional services experts or partners to determine if the framework you have in mind is right for your organization. Your governance framework provides foundational structure for consistent API management, encompassing API selection, governance, policies, design practices, and organizational roles. Putting the right cornerstones in place from the beginning will ensure efficiency, security, and scalability throughout the API management lifecycle. 

Policy application and testing

Once you decide on your governance approach, you can apply it to your APIs and import them into the system. Rigorously test the APIs using tools like Postman to identify and rectify issues, ensuring they align with functional requirements and integrate seamlessly with external systems and services. Policy application and testing are crucial as they ensure that your APIs adhere to defined guidelines and security measures, enabling seamless integration with external systems while validating functional alignment.

Developer portal creation

With key polices in place you are ready to create a secure developer portal. Here you will expose APIs to external and internal stakeholders. Encourage your developers to take self-paced training or visit the developer Tech Community to get up to speed on how to customize and brand the portal according to your needs, accommodating SOAP and REST APIs. Implement approval workflows for access tokens, establish API communities, always coming back to make sure your configurations are aligned with your business objectives.

Security and traffic considerations

Stay ahead of security concerns early in your implementation. Some key activities to address with your team are authentication methods, authorization policies, and data encryption. Delivering on customer experiences means you need to know your solution can handle the expected load. Work with your team to estimate API traffic and usage patterns to proactively manage risks, ensure system scalability, ensure you comply with regulations, build user trust, and optimize the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your API management solution. 

Testing and validation

Testing and verifying your APIs is a critical step in your implementation. Doing so provides confidence in the quality, functionality, performance, and security of your APIs. Leave room in your project schedule for testing to catch issues early in the development process, reduce the risk of defects in production, and improve the overall reliability and usability of the APIs for your consumers.

Analytics and monitoring integration

Integrating analytics and monitoring into your implementation is essential to continuously enhance and align APIs with business goals. Be proactive by incorporating analytics and monitoring capabilities during your implementation. Your professional services team can help you Setup Analytics for API Management to aid in better decision-making, improved reliability, scalability, and overall success of your APIs within your organization's larger strategic context.

By sticking to these milestones, your implementation journey will lead to a successful API management solution that not only meets your objectives but also provides reliability, scalability, and value to your organization.


Phase 4: Adopt

With your solution implemented, you can focus on promoting the adoption of your APIs within your developer community. A strong community will create a positive environment that encourages adoption and maximizes the value of your APIs. 
Consider the following: 
  • How does the API solution impact different stakeholders in your organization?
  • How can you best roll out your program in our organization and to partners/customers?
  • How will you handle API documentation and developer support?

Your first step is to rollout your program to partners and/or customers by making an announcement to your developer community letting them know about the new developer API portal and its features. Explain the benefits, functionalities, and improvements and highlight any changes in API documentation, authentication mechanisms, or access procedures.

Next, provide training to educate developers on how to effectively use the developer portal and its features. Self-paced training is a great way to get started. Or work with your CSM or Services team to get set up with a tailored training plan. Your training should cover topics such as accessing the portal, navigating through available APIs, requesting API access, and testing APIs. Ensure developers understand the benefits and how it simplifies their workflow.

You may also consider creating feedback loops and communication channels to facilitate continuous improvement and foster an ‘outside-in’ approach to development. Gather input on documentation, usability, and any challenges they face. Make it a priority to actively listen to their feedback and promptly address their concerns.

Depending on the culture of your organization, you may want to drive engagement by organizing events that showcase the capabilities and benefits of your APIs. Encourage developers to share experiences, success stories, and best practices in your community. Recognize and reward developers who contribute to the community or demonstrate innovative use of the APIs.

Establish easy ways to provide comprehensive documentation and support resources for developers using your APIs. Include clear and detailed guides on API usage, authentication mechanisms, error handling, and best practices. Provide code samples, SDKs, and other resources that facilitate integration with the APIs. Make it easy for developers to find the information they need to effectively utilize the APIs.

Finally, establish a support system to address developers' queries, issues, and technical challenges. Provide responsive support through multiple channels or offer self-service resources like FAQs, knowledge bases, or community forums where developers can find answers to common questions.


Phase 5: Measure

We all know data is king to be a successful organization in a digital era. Without effective measurement of your API management platform, you’ll be left guessing how you’re doing and where to improve. Optimize your APIs by setting key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned to your business objectives.

API Management KPIs
Measure for success

People metrics, like adoption and developer engagement, help you gauge developer interest and acceptance, indicating the success of your implementation in attracting users. Understanding how developers utilize your APIs can indicate their perceived value by gauging their involvement through API usage, registration numbers, update frequency, and utilization of developer resources.

Metrics that track API performance, such as monitoring, can help you identify bottlenecks, optimize performance, and ensure system reliability. A critical KPI for your API management platform is security and compliance. Use these metrics to identify errors, track performance, and understand how clients are using your APIs. In the same way, you can also use them to diagnose and debug problems with your API. API performance measures can ensure the integrity and trustworthiness of your API management platform.

Emphasize the significant impact and value of your API management platform with KPIs that showcase the revenue and business outcomes resulting from your platform's implementation. These metrics will not only justify the efforts you have made but also highlight the return on investment (ROI) for your stakeholders. Additionally, customer satisfaction metrics play a crucial role in offering invaluable insights for continuous improvement, meeting customer expectations, and fostering long-term relationships with your valued customers.


Phase 6: Realize

How do you know if your API management implementation is a success? Start back at the beginning – or the end in this case – and map your vision and drivers to specific business outcomes. No two journeys are identical, but understanding the outcomes you want to achieve, based on your use case and hosting choices, you’ll be better positioned to accelerate value from your solution. Determine if your initiative contributes to desired outcomes like increased revenue, improved customer experience, or enhanced operational efficiency.  

Security and compliance are of utmost importance in today’s digital landscape. Does your corporate security policy meet these standards? Review IT governance to safeguard sensitive data, employs secure authentication and authorization mechanisms, and complies with relevant regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA. We can help ensure that you’ve configured API Gateway security the right way.

The level of developer engagement and satisfaction is a key indicator of your implementation’s success. Determine if developers find value in your APIs, actively participate in your developer community, and provide positive feedback. If not, reach out through established feedback loops to explore ways to iterate your approach. 

Finally, your platform must be able to perform and deliver on expected business outcomes. A successful implementation should handle increasing API traffic, deliver consistent performance, and support organizational and consumer needs. Regularly analyze data to optimize your implementation and make informed decisions on where to improve.

Key takeaways

  • Start with your business objectives and plan toward that vision. Separate what you want to achieve from how your partners or customers consume your APIs. Reduce complexity to make it easy for these groups to work with you.
  • Understand your use case and how it applies to the different hosting options. Are you looking for agility or do you require more control? Is your environment complex? Do you have an established center of excellence or are you looking to build skills over time?
  • The culture of your organization is vital to preparing and planning for your API management implementation. Define an approach that fits with the way your teams work.
  • Mitigate risks by following API management implementation best practices. Follow a phased approach to inventory, configure, customize, and onboard users.  
  • Engage, engage, engage. Your developer community is vital to your implementation’s success. Make sure they have the tools and resources they need to adopt and grow value from your APIs.
  • Set KPIs as part of your API management implementation so that you can continuously measure and monitor the adoption, performance, and value of your platform.
  • When in doubt, leverage your services provider or a certified delivery partner to develop best practices and establish a framework that sets your implementation for success from the start.   
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