API-Driven Architecture in Business Process Management (BPM)

Katherine Manning October 28, 2020 BPM Business Applications

API-Architecture-BPM

When the entire organization adopts what is known as API-led connectivity, everyone in the business is empowered to access their best capabilities in delivering applications and projects through discovery, self-service, and reuse.

API-driven architecture presents a methodical means for connecting data to applications via reusable APIs. Further, the APIs are designed to retrieve data from systems, transposing the data into processes, and improving the business process management (BPM) experience. When an organization embraces API-driven architecture, everyone in the company is empowered to perform more productively through reuse and self-service. How? APIs essentially decentralize and democratize access to data to unlock key systems, data sources, and legacy applications with reusable assets that not only enhances agility, but also overall speed.

What are process APIs and how do they work?

Process APIs are designed to incorporate data and system APIs for a sole purpose, such as a specific business process serviced by various business functions such as customer service, CRM, or even human resources (HR). Process APIs can support a wide range of products and services. Ownership of Process APIs resides with the associated stakeholders. For instance, technical ownership would follow platform or system ownership. However, Process APIs can span multiple platforms, and ownership revolves around either the organizational unit or whomever receives the greatest impact. Process APIs run similarly to business transactions.

Why is API-driven architecture in BPM necessary?

When a single process can span 35 systems, it makes sense to utilize an API-driven architecture in BPM. As components such as SaaS, IoT, mobile, social, and big data continue to merge, an API-driven architecture in BPM becomes a crucial integration strategy for supporting how businesses digitally interact with their customers and prospects. Process APIs allow organizations to do more with their data, to discover powerful insights, and innovate even faster. The key is the API-driven architecture in BPM. 

Consider how the database schema of mobile applications can change monthly, weekly, and even hourly. Using point-to-point integration is not only slow, but it’s also error-prone. The only approach that works is an API-driven architecture in BPM.

Decimate the delivery gap

The IT department is already overwhelmed with fulfilling their ever-growing list of requests and maintaining legacy systems, along with their integration to newer systems. To keep up with the rapid clip of contemporary technology requires an enormous amount of resources and time. Yet, for most companies, unlimited resources are not an option. So then, an API-driven architecture in BPM is the better route. An API-driven architecture not only connects and exposes data assets, but every asset also becomes a managed API therefore increasing control and self-service. Moreover, once built, users can reuse the APIs for a wide variety of projects. Process APIs can shape data whether in a single system or break down data silos throughout multiple systems. In addition, Experience APIs can reconfigure data so that it is relevant to the intended audience. Any organizational tem can recreate and adapt APIs to meet the evolving needs of the business, the market, and the targeted consumers.

How does API-driven architecture in BPM work in my business?

API-led connectivity is a critical element to closing the IT delivery gap. In a traditional point-to-point integration approach, one might wish to develop a web app to provide real-time order status and order history for sales teams to engage with customers. For this example, let’s assume you have customer data in SAP and in Salesforce; inventory data in SAP; and order data in an e-commerce system.

To illustrate, using the point-to-point integration strategy, a business might develop a proprietary app to track purchase orders. Next, the IT department would integrate data from several systems using code. Then, they would have to create more code to combine purchase order status data with purchase order history data. If the project was launched on time, on budget, and with accurate functionality, business users might be happy – for the interim. Although, now everyone is working remotely, and some of the sales team need access to this data on their mobile devices. As a result, the IT team needs to perform more detailed hand coding to produce a mobile app that is not necessarily connected to the office systems. Basically, they must reconfigure the entire project – all over again. 

With time pressures, thinking of a long-term strategy isn’t in the cards. The focus is on getting things done now as opposed to getting things done right. And, changes become much more difficult to make. Nonetheless, change is constant and the “spaghetti coding,”(recklessly written code that is difficult to maintain), technique is no match for the flexibility needed in the digital age.

On the other hand, an API-driven architecture in BPM allows teams to pull from reusable assets saving on time, resources, functionality, and costs. Creating a mobile app for the sales team is just a matter of reconfiguring the pre-built APIs – no hand coding needed. It is a self-service approach with an infrastructure designed for and ready for change. Not to mention the built-in governance, compliance and visibility needed for retaining a competitive edge in a fast-changing marketplace. 

Unleash the power of reusable resources

An API-driven architecture in BPM liberates resources so companies can move quickly on any project moving forward. The BPM aspect uses well-documented business rules and processes to ensure consistency throughout systems and teams. Therefore, every business process inherently becomes business-friendly. Instead of creating multiple processes, business users can create one process, and reuse the APIs to tailor another process to specific business needs. Further, API-driven architecture in BPM offers a single point of engagement across the company’s entire process ecosystem decreasing time-to-market and maintenance costs. Here are just a few examples:

  • Financial services: Get more out of your legacy systems for fraud detection, account verifications, customer onboarding, and more.
  • Healthcare: Break down the silos of disparate systems to access patient records and improve patient care.
  • Telecommunications: Maintain a proactive stance when detecting and addressing consumer issues.
  • Insurance: Reduce the overall time it takes to manage claims and underwrite customized policies.

To learn how an API-driven architecture in BPM can unlock your company’s workflow potential, contact Processmaker today.

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