4 common API integration challenges (based on our research)

As your organization looks to either integrate internal applications or connect your product with clients' applications, you’ll, unfortunately, run into a host of issues.

How do we know? We partnered with Atomik Research, a 3rd-party market research firm, to survey hundreds of product managers and engineers on—among other topics—the integration challenges they’re running up against (we packaged up our findings in this research report). 

We found that several issues are likely to crop up:

Top challenges of scoping and building API integrations

We’ll dive into each of these API integration challenges and break down how you can overcome them. But first, let’s align on the definition of API integration. 

Related: Popular API integration examples

What is API integration?

It’s the process of connecting applications via their APIs. These connections can either be built between the applications you’re using internally or between your product and your clients’ applications.

The two types of API integration

Note: The challenges below apply to both internal and customer-facing integration scenarios. 

Related: 5 common SaaS integration challenges

Challenges of building API integrations

Here's a closer look at the top challenges, based on our research:

Integration performance

Within the context of API integrations, performance can be somewhat subjective and span multiple dimensions; this includes anything from the time it takes to complete a data sync to its level of accuracy. 

Assuming you want an integration to sync data in real-time—or at least in frequent time intervals—and be 100% reliable, your team will likely need to invest substantial time and resources on developing and testing the integration.

Difficult to scale

Building integrations is a complex, time-intensive endeavor. 

Your engineers will need to dedicate time toward studying a vendor’s API documentation; they’ll need to implement each integration via custom code; and they’ll need to test their integrations to ensure they work as intended. 

While this process might seem feasible for a few integrations, it can quickly overwhelm your engineers if they face dozens of integration requests. 

Moreover, given their uniquely valuable skill set, your engineers likely have other projects they need to prioritize. This can easily lead to integration projects getting deprioritized and lost in the shuffle over time.

Challenging to secure partnerships with 3rd-parties

In some cases (typically with larger organizations), you may need to establish a formal partnership agreement with a vendor to access their API documentation and a sandbox account for their platform. 

These partnership agreements can require you to undergo a security review, negotiate provisions on things like liabilities and indemnification, pay the API provider an annual partnership fee, etc.

Completing these individual agreements can ultimately be time and resource consuming,  expensive, and, in some cases, not worth the potential returns from accessing the 3rd-party’s APIs.

API documentation is hard to access and use

While this challenge party overlaps with the previous one (as sometimes you may need a formal partnership to access API documentation), there are also additional difficulties to consider. 

For instance, the API documentation may not be localized in your language; it may be difficult to navigate through the pages and find the specific information you need; the latest API version may not be reflected in the documentation; you can have trouble contacting the API provider’s support team if you have questions on or experience issues with the documentation—and so on. 

Related: Software integration challenges worth accounting for in 2024

Overcome these integration challenges with Merge

Merge, the leading unified API solution, lets you access a whole category of integrations for your product by simply building to a single unified API—saving your developers an immeasurable amount of time. 

A visual overview on connecting your product to Merge’s HRIS Unified API
A visual overview on connecting your product to Merge’s HRIS Unified API

In addition, Merge lets you sync a broad range of objects and fields through its Common Models, control the frequency of any syncs, and manage the integrations' performance via Integrations Management—all of which ensure that the integrations meet your clients’ expectations over time.

Learn more about Merge by scheduling a demo with one of our integration experts.