Why Should I Use API in Project Management Software?
An application program interface (API) is the set of routines, protocols, and tools used for building software applications. Basically, an API dictates and controls how software components interact. An API also controls how you interact with the software. For instance, when you launch a website in your internet browser, it’s that site’s API that receives and interprets your request and then displays the relevant URL page.
Why an API Matters
Project management software API is the interface that enables you to navigate between screens, views, and commands. It’s what allows your dashboards to display properly and makes the entire experience user friendly. Without an API, you would have to understand code to use the software.
APIs also allow separate pieces of the software to communicate with each other. For instance, an API lets you switch between a table view and a board view of your project without losing settings or filters.
Plus, your software API is the software’s means of interacting with outside applications. Without an API, you wouldn’t be able to integrate your software with anything else, and your project management system would be forced to operate as a stand-alone tool.
If you’ve ever experienced any of the following, you were struggling with a poor application program interface:
- Problems navigating a software system
- Issues using different parts of the system without losing settings, selections, and preferences
- Trouble synchronizing a system with another application
Without a well-designed API, you and your team members are forced to spend more time copying data between tools and systems and completing your everyday tasks within the system. This leads to lost time, inefficiencies, and frustration for everyone involved.
How many systems, tools, and applications do you use to do your job? For most people, the answer is probably at least five:
- An email tool like Gmail
- A file management tool such as Dropbox
- An instant communication software like Slack
- A calendar such as Google Calendar
- A task list management tool such as Todoist
That list doesn’t even include other tools such as a CRM or ERP system, your finance or accounting software, a coding software such as GitHub, and so on. Not to mention more basic tools such as Excel spreadsheets. Some companies also have their own internally built solutions.
Being able to integrate all of your favorite and most-used tools with your project management software enables you to communicate and collaborate more effectively with less effort.
For instance, using your project management software API, you can automatically transfer tasks between GitHub and your software. This allows your team to better organize their work in a more productive way while avoiding the redundancy of logging and updating tasks in both tools.
Tools like Workato and Zapier support thousands of software solutions. This means, that as long as your project management software will integrate with Workato or Zapier, you can enable its API to work with a huge list of other tools. With this number of choices, you should be able to integrate everything you need. The one exception is any internally built software applications your company has.
Advanced API Features
For software applications you’ve created internally, you’ll need a project management software that enables your developers to build their own custom integrations. If the software has a good API, it should be fairly easy for developers to work with it and add applications.
You’ll need a project management software that has a developer portal. This portal should allow your developers to configure how your apps interact with the software, as well as allow them to manage and generate tokens for those apps.
Permanent tokens allow your developers to quickly start app development or use apps in production, if the app will only be used by a few people. Tokens are unique and should be treated like passwords. For instance, if someone has your token, they can see all your data within the software through the API.
Look for important developer features such as the following:
- Organized using REST principles, making the API more robust and easier to use.
- Uses OAuth 2.0 protocol for authorization to align with industry standards.
- Provides quick access to the project management software's API documentation and developer support.
The most significant benefit of an API interface is that it removes silos and provides you with one single source of truth. Never again will you have to worry about different systems being out of sync or generating reports showing different results.
API integrations enable you to see the entire project picture in one centralized location. This big-picture view lets your team and stakeholders quickly see high-level project statuses in real time whenever they want. For instance, if executives want to see how project financials align with the schedule progress, you can use an integration to combine this.
Without integration, you would have to pull the data out of separate systems and manually combine it into one report. Not only is this time consuming, but it increases the risks of errors. Plus, the data may already be out of date by the time you finish and publish the report.
You can also easily store all documentation, conversations, and other information relating to your project in one central repository. Not only does this improve your knowledge base and create a strong audit trail of changes, but it also provides everyone with an easy way to find whatever information they’re looking for. Because they can quickly search and filter through the software, stakeholders no longer have to dig back through emails and past messenger conversations to find information.
The bottom line is that every time you integrate your project management software with other software applications used by your team, you reduce the time it takes for project administration and manual work. Whether it’s enabling your team to set up projects faster, share updates quicker, or automatically invoice customers, integrations improve your project performance.