How to leapfrog the API competition
Global Kinetic Discovery Team
In our last blog post, we discussed why accessibility, simplicity, and standardization are essential for a great bank API. These elements make it easier for user-developers and consumers to adopt the API and reduce the support required for user-designers to get started. This lowers the cost of customer acquisition.
However, the industry still has a long way to go to improve the API user experience. We often see the results of approaches to API development that disregard the importance of design thinking in a crowded market.
Design thinking is an approach to solving complex or ill-defined problems by focusing on the needs of the individual user. It’s a practical process that emphasizes hands-on experimentation, prototyping, and testing of new ideas and products.
At Global Kinetic, we use design thinking to build developer-friendly, market-ready APIs that users love.
The Global Kinetic process
We start every project by assembling two teams of specialists with all the disciplines needed to design, build, and release a successful API.
The first team is a dedicated API Discovery and Design team that delves into our customer’s requirements and designs a solution to meet their business goals. This is a complex undertaking with several stakeholders involved, but it’s crucial that all of them are represented.
The second team is an API Delivery team that takes the output from the first team and builds and releases the API to our customer. This team includes an agile project manager, business analyst, user experience designer, development lead, and a group of software engineers and testers.
This approach may seem “waterfall” because it’s front-loaded with analysis work. However, tools like Swagger enable an agile design approach for API products. This is the most effective and efficient way to approach any problem. Lorén Rose, Global Kinetic’s COO, has written about this in the context of our use of autonomous teams:
“If you see the value in self-sufficiency, if you want to empower developers to make their own decisions, you have to ensure that they know, not only what they are building, but why they are building it. What are the problems the client hopes to solve? What are the benefits they hope to accrue? And since we are always indirectly building experiences for end users, we need to know who they are too and what they are wanting to do.”
If you get it right, you’ll save a lot of time, money, and heartache. That’s why we frequently define a business value hierarchy to understand the needs and priorities of each stakeholder. We always keep the user-developer experience in mind, even though the process can get messy.
In the design phase, a business analyst first conducts research and creates user personas, use cases, and user journeys. Then, a solution architect and API user experience designer collaborate to translate these requirements into a product specification in Swagger, along with an API style guide for consistency and a roadmap of releases.
We always recommend rapid iteration on the product specification before committing to development. An embedded software engineer then works on proof of concepts to validate technical feasibility and prototypes designs in a design sandbox.
While the design phase requires close collaboration with our customer, our process ensures that we operate independently. Product features are delivered in a prioritized order based on consultation during the discovery phase. Releases are triggered as soon as a minimum feature set is available. Each release comes with day-one access to a full use-case-driven developer sandbox and is designed for accessibility.
Having the competitive advantage
Global Kinetic has a deep understanding of and appreciation for design thinking. Our executive team and senior engineers are all strong advocates for its role in delivering solutions that meet the needs of all key stakeholders from the start.
We believe that product owners who empathize with the developers and business users who consume their API products and who make decisions based on a deep understanding of customer needs have a competitive advantage.
Our track record of purpose-built APIs, many of which power new financial services in markets around the world, shows our expertise and approach. As software integration experts with a wide network in fintech and financial services, we are also well-positioned to improve the accessibility of existing APIs that are struggling to break into the market.
We welcome any requests for further information on our services and record in fintech and other tech sectors. Contact Global Kinetic – we can do this for you.
This is the last in a series of blog posts on APIs. In the first, we explained why APIs must be approached as products, not the technical projects they have so often tended to be.