Build vs buy software: API integration or software development?

Build vs buy software: API integration or software development?

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In the evolving realm of digital transformation, businesses often face the decision of whether to purchase software which offers an API integration or invest in custom software development. 

If you’re finding it hard to choose between using an API integration or creating software from scratch, this article is here to help. We’ll look closely at how API integrations work, their benefits, give real-life examples, and compare them thoroughly with the process of building custom software.

What is an API integration?

At its core, an API, or Application Programming Interface, serves as a bridge that allows different software applications to communicate and share data seamlessly. 

The flexibility of an API integration has made it a popular choice for businesses looking to streamline processes and improve overall efficiency.

Why are API’s so important?

Whilst an API integration may sound like a complex luxury, it’s actually a feature that is expected from a lot of SaaS companies. In fact, the market is now so competitive that success is not just about whether or not a company has an API, but about how usable and intuitive it is.

How do API integrations work?

API integrations act as a ‘bridge’ allowing the exchange of data between different software applications. 

Imagine for example you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system and wish to incorporate electronic signatures into your sales process. Integrating the Signable API into your CRM allows your sales team to send, track, and manage electronic signatures directly within the CRM platform. 

This not only streamlines the user experience but also creates a seamless workflow, reduces manual effort, and ultimately enhances productivity.

Benefits of API integration

Enhanced efficiency: API integrations automate processes, minimising the need for manual intervention and reducing the likelihood of errors.

Improved customer experience: Seamless integrations contribute to a smoother user experience, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Scalability: APIs offer scalable solutions that can adapt to the evolving needs of a business without causing significant disruptions.

Time and cost savings: Using APIs can result in significant time and cost savings compared to building the functionality into your own system from scratch.

For more API integration benefits, take a look at Signable’s dedicated eBook.

API tech examples

You likely experience the use of API integrations daily without even realising it. Here are some common examples of API tech:

Google Maps API: Allows businesses to include a map functionality into applications, enabling them to provide location-based services.

Stripe API: Facilitates seamless online payment processing, ensuring secure and efficient financial transactions.

Signable API: Enables integration of electronic signature functionality into CRMS and other systems, allowing businesses to automate their signing process.

Signable API in action

The Signable API serves as a prime example of how API integration can revolutionise document management processes. With seamless integration, businesses can automate the entire eSignature workflow within their existing systems. 

The Signable API empowers organisations to send documents for signature, track their progress, and manage the entire signature process without leaving their familiar platforms.

Build vs buy software

Choosing between building a bespoke software solution and purchasing an API integration is a decision not to be made lightly. Each option has their own pros and cons:

When to build software

If you’re looking for something a little more complex than what existing API integrations can offer, custom software development might be the way forward:

Unique requirements: Custom development is preferable when a business has highly specific or unique needs that existing software cannot fulfil.

Complete control: Building software from scratch provides complete control over features, design, and functionality, catering to precise business requirements.

Long-term investment: For organisations with long-term visions, a custom solution can be a strategic investment, designed to evolve and grow alongside the company.

When to buy software

Whilst building custom software has its benefits, there are instances where purchasing an API integration is the wiser choice:

Standard requirements: If your business requires standard functionalities that are commonly available in existing software, purchasing can save time and resources.

Budget constraints: Buying software can be more cost-effective, especially for smaller businesses with limited budgets, as it eliminates the upfront costs and time associated with custom development.

Quick deployment: If you need a solution quickly, buying an API integration which offers the required features can lead to faster implementation compared to building from scratch.

The decision to build or buy software, and whether to utilise API integrations, requires a thorough evaluation of your business goals, available resources, and specific requirements. 

Start by conducting a detailed assessment, weighing the benefits of API integration against the potential advantages of custom development. Whether you opt to build bespoke software or integrate APIs, ensure that your decision aligns with your business’s unique objectives. 

Streamline processes with the Signable API

If automated document management is something you’re looking to incorporate into your systems, the Signable API can help streamline your workflows. Available with any paid plan, the Signable API makes electronically signing documents directly from your app easy. 
Try Signable for free for 14-days and see for yourself the benefits of electronic signing.