The key benefits of a public API for spend management tools

Did you know? Spendesk’s public API makes it easier than ever to integrate spend management into your existing tool stack.

You can tap into Spendesk’s value via three channels: the desktop app, the mobile app and the public API. The API allows customers and partners to collaborate and co-design a spend management solution that solves for the increasingly complex needs of finance teams and their tool stack.

This article will cover all you need to know about APIs, what our “public” API capabilities mean, how this feature can help Spendesk users, and why we built our API with developers in mind. Let’s get started.

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What’s an API?

First we’ll tackle the obvious question: what the heck is an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. Simply put, an API consists of a request for something, and a response back with something. According to Amazon, “APIs are mechanisms that enable two software components to communicate with each other using a set of definitions and protocols.” MuleSoft has an excellent explainer video that describes APIs in layman's terms.

Think of an API as a helpful tool that lets you communicate with another piece of software to get what you need. It’s like having a translator that helps you and the software understand each other perfectly.

APIs vs integrations

APIs and integrations are sometimes used interchangeably but I like to be more explicit about the use and meaning behind these terms. 

An integration between two tools is the end result you are aiming for. There are different ways you can achieve that integration, one of which is by using technical enablers like APIs to build that connection. These APIs open up a toolbox of capabilities which developers can use to craft the perfect experience.

The use of integrations and APIs also targets different users. If you're an end user who is not technical (or not looking to code a solution), then an integration is what you want to engage with. You’ll want to configure an integration via a user interface and then have it do its jobs –  whether that's automatically onboarding users onto Spendesk with our HR integrations or automating bookkeeping to your accounting tool

But if you are a developer looking to code a solution or create a custom experience, then an API provides you the flexibility to build your solution piece by piece – just like lego blocks.

APIs are opening up new opportunities for fintech companies to build upon open banking and move into embedded finance.

How do APIs work with spend management software?

Now let’s talk about APIs in the context of finance tools.

Spend management is one part of a financial team’s toolkit: it interconnects into broader company processes and operations. But to get these tools to “talk” to each other, you either have to use pre-existing integrations that the software companies build themselves, or make your own connections using an API. 

We built an API so our users can connect their unique tech stacks however they see fit. This gives them greater flexibility and ultimately a better user experience.

Opening up a spend management platform via APIs allows businesses to have control over how they create a holistic connected experience between their financial tools and operational processes. Businesses can then create custom workflows and automate processes to fit their needs. Without APIs it would mean they are dependent only on the features and integrations we build, which may not cater for all their needs.

Spendesk users can benefit from the public API and connect the tools in their tech stacks to Spendesk in the way that suits them best.

Spendesk’s new public API feature will allow you to connect directly into Spendesk’s capabilities without the limitations of a predetermined app.

Richard Rosenberg, Chief Technical Officers at Spendesk

Spendesk built a “public” API, what does that mean?

APIs are used in many layers of technology. The first layer is known as “Process” or “Data Access APIs” – these pull raw data from underlying systems and don’t contain much logic. 

The second layer is known as “Business Logic APIs” – these use the first layer APIs but add some form of logic, so might take raw data and use it to make calculations, filter out information, or merge information together. 

The third layer is known as “Presentation/Client APIs” – these use the second layer APIs in a combination to provide value to the end user. 

The first and second layer are typically internal APIs that companies use themselves but don’t expose publicly. The third layer could be internal only, but can also be shared as external APIs - hence “public” APIs. 

We acknowledge that finance teams are unique between companies. They have variations in their processes and how they operate. So as much as Spendesk can build great integrations to accounting tools or HR tools, it’s impossible to build an out-of-the-box experience which works for everyone’s edge cases. The API offers us a way to cater for this need, giving control and autonomy to customers and partners to build.

Read on for more benefits of Spendesk’s public API.

What are the key benefits of Spendesk’s public API?

The benefits of using an API in general are numerous: smoother interactions between tools in your tech stack, faster access to data, and better synergy overall. 

But the real value doesn’t come from just having an API, it comes from how the API is used to unlock use cases which we’ve not built ourselves.

For Spendesk users, you can easily connect Spendesk to other business-critical tools with our public API. Ultimately, this will help you make better decisions by marrying spend data with your company’s other financial data.

Having an API doesn’t just help our customers, but it allows us to partner better with other tools (accounting systems, subscription management, cash management, human resources, project management, etc.) and system integrators. Together with the integrations we at Spendesk build, and the integrations which partners build, we can offer a comprehensive range of integrations which require no coding from customers.

Let’s break down the benefits specifically for both Spendesk customers and partners:

Benefits for customers

Key benefit: Connect Spendesk to your finance and business tool stack.

  1. Integrate with ease: Easily connect Spendesk with essential business tools and workflows by leveraging the flexibility of our APIs.

  2. Automate your workflow: Speed up your response to time-critical events by integrating our capabilities with your unique operational requirements and business needs.

  3. Leverage our integration expertise: Leverage our comprehensive and growing documentation catalogue based on our extensive experience building integrations.

Benefits for partners

Key benefit: Grow and expand your offering with Spendesk.

  1. Extend your market reach: Tap into Spendesk’s growing customer base of 5,000+ businesses in need of business critical integrations you can build. With €20 billion securely transacted, partnering with Spendesk offers mutual growth opportunities.

  2. Expand your product offering: Join forces with a market leading spend management platform to build sought-after custom integrations.

  3. Speed up your build process: Dive into our clean and comprehensive API specifications and get up and running quickly.

What’s different about Spendesk’s public API?

What’s different about our public API is how we built it and with whom.

While building our API, it was a given that we would think about the developer experience that goes hand-in-hand with it. You can design an API to be very intuitive to consume, but having a developer experience which includes guides, documentation and demos accelerates your ability to build a solution.

We plan to keep developers’ needs at the heart of the platform.

In addition, we openly collaborated with customers and partners to validate their needs, testing early versions of the API and encouraging them to co-design it with us.

What’s next?

Going forward, developers will be critical to the strategy and success of our public API.

My prediction is that we’ll have a mixture of users, from developers to tech-savvy business people. It’s quite common for finance team members to have sophisticated skill sets with macros in Excel.

We welcome a rich diversity of users and we look forward to continuing to work alongside our customers and partners to improve our public API.

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