Criteria for and Benefits of Selecting an API Partner

The businesses you select to partner with play a vital role in the success of your company. When it comes to an Application Programming Interface (API) partner, the consequences of your choice are of particular importance. Properly-built APIs streamline internal workflow processes so employees can work more efficiently. They also make it easier for customers to transact business, helping drive more revenues.

The choice of an API development partner thus warrants careful consideration. Collaborating with the right partner saves you time and money and delivers a high cost-to-value ratio. But make the wrong choice, and you will waste all that time and all that money—while also negatively impacting your business operations.

In this article, we review the critical areas to consider when selecting an API partner. Following these tips will help you avoid the pitfalls of an ineffective partnership while ensuring a fast, smooth and productive API development process.

Identifying Potential API Partner Candidates

Online research will give you a sense of the leading API development partners, but also get references from your internal and external colleagues. Those who understand your business model can help you evaluate which firms match up best with your requirements.

As you go through the initial research process, check for market reputation. Which firms generate positive comments on social media? It’s also a good idea to check their websites, which often convey the level of professionalism offered by each firm.

When reviewing the website, glance through the portfolio of customers to see if they match your industry, the size of your business, and the maturity of your business. If there are customer testimonials posted, you might be able to connect directly to get more details and to confirm their level of endorsement.

A firm that posts blogs on their websites is another factor to look for. The blogs will give you a sense of their level of expertise and if they identify with a company like yours in understanding your API challenges and knowing how to solve them.

Assessing the Major API Partner Criteria

API Partner Selection Criteria Infographic

After conducting your online research and checking references from colleagues, narrow your list of candidates down to three. This will give you options but not so many that the process drains your time and makes the choice too complex.

Then schedule meetings with each potential partner and create a scorecard to assess them according to these major criteria:

  • Software expertise – can they offer coding and testing in the languages you prefer as well as other leading programming languages? This gives you the flexibility to adapt according to your future API needs.
  • Project management capabilities – strong software developers require project managers to keep them on schedule; ideally, work with a firm that offers separate resources who are dedicated only to managing projects, not balancing project management with development responsibilities.
  • Communication capabilities – strong project managers should also be good at communicating the information the partner needs to do their jobs, the status of projects, and the identification of issues. The really good project managers will push back when they sense something you want to do is not the right approach.
  • Development methodologies – the leading firms follow the Agile development methodology and use Scrum techniques, which both fit nicely into DevOps and CI/CD environments that enable new APIs and updates to go live faster.
  • Resource availability – meeting all of the criteria above means nothing if resources are not available. Confirm the number of resources the partner will commit to your project and whether they will be dedicated to your account or also working with other customers.

Another key facet is teamwork. How well do the partner’s developers, testers, project managers, sales, service, and management all work together? Can you sense strong camaraderie and internal respect among the team members?

Also, get a sense of how well each potential partner’s senior management team runs their business. A company that shows recent growth and strong profitability is more likely to deliver on their API development commitments.

Delving Into the Partnership Details

While it’s important to focus first on the major criteria presented in the preceding section, there are also several details to delve into to make sure a partner is an ideal fit. As a starting point, ask where team members are geographically located. Local resources tend to be more expensive while offshore resources may be the lowest cost but also driven more so by margins rather than quality. It can also be more challenging to collaborate with offshore resources who are based in Europe or Asia due to the time differential.

An alternative that balances the best of local and offshore resources is the nearshore resource model. They provide the middle ground from a cost perspective with high-quality development skills. They are also typically based in neighboring countries, giving you the ability to work with professionals in similar time zones.

Other details to check are each API partner’s approach to IT security so your digital assets remain protected. Also, confirm the handling of intellectual property and copyrights. As the client, your firm should have full rights to anything your partner develops.

Another area to discuss is conflicts of interest, i.e. does the partner work with any of your competitors? It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if they do, and it may give the partner a stronger sense of what works well in your industry. You just want to be aware if this is the case and fully protect your interests with an NDA.

If you have reached this point and all things look good, you area then onto contract pricing, terms, and conditions. Discuss as well the conditions for relationship termination and how intellectual property and sensitive data will be turned over so the relationship can end on good terms, should the conditions warrant.

Benefits of Outsourcing to an API Development Firm

Even if you have solid software development resources already on staff, API development brings specific nuances that differ from application coding. By partnering with an API development firm, you gain the ability to tap into deeper and broader expertise and generate key benefits for your API development program:

  • Increased efficiency with the ability to start projects sooner and complete them more quickly.
  • Reduced risk of projects taking too long to complete or failing altogether.
  • Elimination of capital costs relating to compute resources to support API development.
  • Removal of operational costs for hiring developers, testers, and project managers to handle API projects.

And just like the value proposition of any outsourcing service, working with an API partner enables you to keep your focus on your primary business and your core software development skills. Instead of worrying about how your applications will integrate, you can dedicate internal resources to making sure your applications provide the services your customers and your end-users require.

Proactively Facilitate Your Partnership

Once you determine the API partner you will work with, it’s also important to proactively consider what you need to do to ensure the partnership works well. This includes clearly defining your budget and the scope of work. When these aspects are murky or change midstream, it will be difficult for your partner to deliver on their commitments.

From the social perspective, also foster the right culture among your internal team members who will be working with the partner’s team. It’s key to strive for flexibility and be open to ideas the partner brings to the table. Create an environment where everyone feels like they are part of one team.

Yes, these are all things a good partner will strive for as well. But the nature of any partnership is a two-way street. For both parties to succeed, each side needs to fully invest themselves emotionally and harbor a culture of collaboration.

Contact us today to learn more about our API consulting and development services and how Tiempo can support your company’s digital transformation journey.