What’s an API and Why Does It Matter?

There are so many acronyms – too many. At times it can feel like there’s a jumbled alphabet bouncing around in your brain. In the tech world, it’s no exception – there’s a shorthand for everything. Fortunately, deciphering these acronyms isn’t the most important thing. Knowing what the letters stand for is far less important than what they refer to in practice.

One of these acronyms that you will hear quite often, in regard to association management software, is API. Again, it doesn’t really matter what it stands for, but for posterity – API means “Application Programming Interfaces”. As you can see, unpacking the letters of an acronym doesn’t always enlighten you to the concept. From a layman’s perspective, “Application Programming Interfaces” still means nothing to me.

Brass tacks, an API refers to the capability of one application, program, system or software to communicate, share and interact with another seamlessly. Where you would otherwise have to enter the same information or data twice, into two standalone programs to complete two different processes, an API will eliminate the need to duplicate effort. API-enabled programs that are connected to each other will make it so you can enter pertinent data in one and the other will suck in that data, interpret and file it properly.

APIs are all but required for the implementation of an efficient AMS. That APIs exist, there’s no reasonable grounds to have professional administrators or registrars enter the same information multiple times over. If this is the approach you take, administrators will be relegated to perpetual keyboard punching – instead of actually managing your association members.

Employing an association management software that is API-capable will benefit your organization in the following ways.

Time and Resource Efficiency
As mentioned above, having an AMS with APIs integrated will empower your administrators to maximize their efforts managing association members. Furthermore, it goes without saying that eliminating the duplication of effort when entering data and information will save large amounts of time.
Your process is your process. The AMS you implement should not slow down or force you to revise your process. An association management system that is API-capable will be able to adapt to the way you do things, which is how it should be. If you’re having to change to accommodate an AMS, that’s just wrong.
Having an API-integrated member management software opens you up to a world of choice regarding the other process software you choose to implement. If your AMS can easily connect to other solutions meant to service your accounting, sales pipeline and operations – you’ll be more empowered as a consumer of solutions designed for those departments. When your AMS is adaptable to other solutions, the world is your oyster.

In a nutshell, APIs allow your AMS to be agile – making your association agile. Your processes will be more streamlined and your administration will be more in touch with your membership.