Table of Contents

Unified API evaluation guide

You've evaluated your options and it looks like a Unified API is exactly what you need to burn through that backlog of integrations. Choosing a Unified API is an important decision, not least because it will become a core part of your technology stack.

What makes a good Unified API

When shopping for a Unified API, here are the most important factors to consider:

  1. Breadth of integrations
  2. Data fields and methods
  3. Custom objects and fields
  4. Sync frequencies and webhooks
  5. Developer tools
  6. Data privacy and scopes
  7. Integrations management
  8. Security and compliance
  9. Reliability

Breadth of integrations

A great Unified API should provide coverage, within a specific software category, to all of the key integrations your customers are asking for. After all, that is the point of a Unified API, to unify the data models and API endpoints for all the integrations you need. Keep an eye out for how many integrations are offered and whether key APIs are covered (e.g., Workday for HR or Netsuite for accounting). 

You'll also want to ensure that they are based on underlying APIs, not web scraping or manual intervention that can be prone to periodic failures or infrequent sync frequencies. 

Related: Guide to unified integration

Data fields and methods

The right integrations are just the starting point. Next, you'll want to evaluate a Unified API on the data models it offers for each integration and whether this data matches your product requirements. If tracking the start date of an employee or the foreign currency of a transaction is important for what you're building, make sure the Unified API has the coverage you want.

Unified APIs have well-documented Common Models that clearly define data fields returned for each integration.

Custom objects and fields

For specialized use cases, not all software providers may have the data you want in their APIs. A Unified API may also have gaps in the data it normalizes. 

You'll want a Unified API that offers customized data objects, customized data fields, and a means to map these fields to your customers data. This allows you to access non-standard data, all while keeping your code clean and your customer experience as simple as possible.

Customizable common models allow for the app developer or the end user to choose source and destination fields for non-standard data.

Related: The top benefits of a unified API platform

Sync frequencies and webhooks

Unified APIs sync data from software providers for you. Depending on your use case, you may need access to frequent data syncs or real-time notifications of data changes. Unified APIs should offer quick initial data syncs, frequent and configurable ongoing syncs, and an ability to automate webhooks for real-time updates.

Unified APIs should have clear and reliable sync frequencies to each supported integration.

Developer tools

Unified APIs should be built by developers, for developers. They should have SDKs in the languages you use, clear and thorough documentation, and ready-to-use UI components for integration authentication and authorization.

A great developer experience includes linking flows in an app frontend and SDKs to interact with the data synced to the app backend

Data privacy and scopes

Not every customer or use case requires the same access to data. And if you serve enterprise customers, they may be reluctant to grant access to anything but the bare minimum of data required. Unified APIs should give your developers and your customers control of which data is accessed via the Unified API.

Unified APIs should incorporate data permissions and scoping into the initial integration linking flow.

Integrations management

Making an integration available in your application and having your customer authorized it is just the beginning. Over time integrations need management, including sync errors due to software provider downtime, stale authentication credentials, and improperly configured permissions. 

Unified APIs should give you detailed logs, automate error detection, and per-customer configurations for data syncs.

Features such as automated error detection improve customer experience and reduce your support burden.

Security and compliance

Data security is paramount for Unified APIs as they process and store customer data on your behalf. Unified APIs should be SOC 2 Type II compliant, ISO 27001 certified, and have relevant certifications for your industry, including HIPAA for US-healthcare data. Unified APIs should also give you control over data residency, including options to store data in the EU and options for single-tenancy.

Reliability

Integrations are a critical component of your infrastructure and customer experience. You'll want to choose a Unified API with a history of consistent uptime, one that's built on a fault-tolerant infrastructure, and one with a low rate of API errors. 

Additional Unified API Resources

If you're looking to go deeper on Unified APIs, check out these essential articles:

For all of this info in one comprehensive place, download the Guide to Unified APIs.

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