What is an API and how can it help me?

AP… What?

There used to be a time when infor­ma­tion was cre­at­ed and stored on a sin­gle com­put­er. To get infor­ma­tion from one to there oth­er, you had to save it on flop­py disks and phys­i­cal­ly trans­port them from one com­put­er to anoth­er. Pro­cess­ing infor­ma­tion was often a mat­ter of print­ing it out and re-enter­ing it into anoth­er tool built for a dif­fer­ent pur­pose. Sounds medieval, but we’re talk­ing about just 25 years ago.

These days every­thing is in the cloud. Our images, our mes­sages, our doc­u­ments. We share and col­lab­o­rate with a click of a button.

API stands for Appli­ca­tion Pro­gram­ming Inter­face and is basi­cal­ly just a way for (cloud) appli­ca­tions to allow oth­er appli­ca­tions to com­mu­ni­cate with them.

Did you ever vis­it a com­pa­ny web­site that fea­tured a live twit­ter feed? They used Twitter’s API to build that. When you’re look­ing for a rental car for your hol­i­day, the trav­el web­site will use the API of var­i­ous rental com­pa­nies to see what cars they have avail­able at what rate. You can save time by using your Face­book account to reg­is­ter for an online ser­vice, that tool is using Facebook’s API to iden­ti­fy you. Heaps of online tools use Stripe or Paypal’s API to process pay­ments. And when you con­sult your account bal­ance on the app on your phone, you got it… API.

Those are just a few exam­ples. API’s are lit­er­al­ly every­where. Apps even com­mu­ni­cate with them­selves through APIs…

So an API is real­ly a secure com­mu­ni­ca­tion inter­face, a set of func­tions, pro­to­cols and tools that allows read­ing, writ­ing, updat­ing and some­times dele­tion of records in(between) applications.

AP Why?

In a cre­ative agency, you use dif­fer­ent tools for man­ag­ing your busi­ness, most impor­tant­ly a project man­age­ment soft­ware, like Streamtime.

The impor­tance of an API is that you save timed and avoid errors by not hav­ing to enter data mul­ti­ple times. Stream­time has an API, so you can think of ways of mak­ing Stream­time more efficient.

Let’s say you’re after a very spe­cif­ic report that does not exist in Stream­time. No wor­ries – Stream­time lets you export data to CSV. But what if the report requires input from jobs, timesheets as well as invoic­es? That means mak­ing 3 exports and then using smart for­mu­las to merge it all togeth­er in Excel.

Unless you are a guru in Excel, this is going to be quite dif­fi­cult. And even if you are a guru, it’s still very time con­sum­ing. And that’s fine if you need to run that report once a year. But what if this is a report you require every month or even every week? What if you just fin­ished cre­at­ing the report and it turns out some jobs weren’t up to date yet? You’ll have to do it all over again.

This is where the API comes in handy. You can sim­ply build a report once and run it as often as you like, with no extra time or effort.

Basi­cal­ly in Excel you might spend 5260 min­utes to run a week­ly report. That’s a week an a half a year some­one is manip­u­lat­ing num­bers in Excel!

If you build a web based report using the API, it could cost 2 or 3 days to to devel­op, but you could run it as often as you like, be it ever week or every day, for as many years as you like.

In some agen­cies there are admin staff who spend one entire day every month assem­bling com­plex reports. Not only could that time be spent doing more use­ful things you wouldn’t need to wait till month’s end to get the results.

There are plen­ty of oth­er exam­ples of course. Stream­time can con­nect to an account­ing soft­ware to avoid dou­ble entry of invoic­es. Your cus­tomer might enter new job details via your web­site, rather than send­ing you an email and get­ting you to copy/​paste it. You could use a sales tool like Pipedrive to man­age new busi­ness. When a new client is won, the client details could be direct­ly pushed from Pipedrive to Stream­time. There are loads of possibilities.

wayahead app

At waya­head we used Streamtime’s API to build a set of reports for you. These reports are an addi­tion to what you can see in Streamtime.

With a sin­gle click, waya­head will tell you if your staff’s time was bill­able or non-bill­able, if the team has reached their tar­gets and how they are doing com­pared to last week or the last 2 months. You can see your 2018 rev­enue com­pared to 2017 and 2016, so spot trends, and you can choose to analyse the prof­it rather than the rev­enue. There is a cal­en­dar list­ing your dead­lines, an effi­cient way of send­ing a timesheet report to your client,… etc.

You can sign up for a free tri­al account of waya­head and see for your­self. Get in touch if you would like a cus­tom report built for your business.