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ATS API Integrations: All You Need to Know

This article discusses everything you need to know to build ATS API integrations: key data models, ATS concepts, use cases, top ATS APIs and get started guide

If you are looking to integrate multiple HRIS and ATS apps with a single API key, check out Knit API. If you are looking to learn more about key ATS API concepts, data models and use cases, keep reading.

One of the first steps towards fueling a high powered organization is by onboarding the right talent. However, with the changing skill sets and dynamics of recruitment, hiring is becoming increasingly complex. 

As a result, most companies today are relying on different applications to streamline and automate the entire hiring process.There are several applications that come together to build the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and for application management, right from sending out a requisition to the final offer acceptance and onboarding. 

78% recruiters using ATS report having increased the efficiency of their hiring process. To make the process even more effective and efficient, companies want these applications to talk and automatically exchange data to keep pace with each other. Thus, ATS integration is becoming increasingly sought after, giving impetus to the rise of ATS API. 

In this article, we will cover the different facets of ATS integration, focusing on key concepts, use cases, data models, etc. to understand how ATS APIs will change the dynamics of recruitment. 

Key Applicant Tracking (ATS) concepts 

The first step to facilitate ATS integration is to understand the different ATS concepts that can help you familiarize yourself with the right terminology. 

1. Job requisition

Even before an organization starts receiving and processing applications, a key concept to understand is job requisition. Essentially, a job requisition is a template or a form which contains all the details about the job for which applicants are being sought. This includes details on the requirements as well as the process of closing the positions, like assessments, interviews, etc. It may also include details of the hiring manager and other relevant information. Different apps can have different ways of assigning job requisitions.  

2. Sourcing and mapping

Sourcing and mapping starts once the job requirements become clear. The HR or the recruitment manager generally navigates through different platforms and candidate pools to identify the right candidates and map them to different openings within the organization. Sourcing is when the hiring manager proactively reaches out to qualified candidates for a specific job opening. 

3. Candidates, attachments and applications

These three are integral concepts for any ATS API. While the terminology might change slightly for different applications, you will find all of these in some essence. 

  • Candidates refers to the individuals who apply for different roles and this category contains all details about them including name, location, skills, qualifications, etc. While most of the information is public, some information about disability, caste, religion, may be sensitive and stored privately.  

  • Next key ATS integration concept is that of attachments. Each candidate brings forth a set of documents that are relevant for the job they are applying to. These generally include the resume, cover letters, previous work samples, portfolios, etc. Together, these documents are referred to as attachments. 

  • Finally, a candidate may apply to one or more roles. Thus, they can have different applications. The application generally has information regarding when the application was started, current status, active or archive, etc. 

4. Interviews, activities and offers

Another set of concepts come into play when the communication with a candidate begins. 

  • The first of them is the ATS API concept of interviews. This object generally has information about the interview like the location, date and time, whether or not it happened, etc. 

  • Activities as a data object for ATS API refers to different communications that happen with a candidate. It includes details on emails, comments, and other aspects focusing on the subject, activity body, etc. 

  • Finally, after all communication and interviews, offers are rolled out to candidates. The offer object stores data such as the date the offer has been extended, till when it is valid, when the offer is to be accepted, job start date, etc. 

Top ATS APIs in the market

By now you understand that there are several layers to the ATS integration with different types of applications. Here are the top ATS APIs which you should consider connecting with to make hiring smooth and streamlined for your organization. 

top ATS APIs you must integrate with

1. Job posting APIs

The first set of ATS integration you should look out for is the one which can help you with job posting. This involves ensuring that your company profile and job openings are visible to potential candidates to generate interest and leads. 

Top job posting ATS API: Indeed, Monster, Naukri, The Muse

2. Candidate/ Lead sourcing APIs

Once the job has been posted, the next step is to build a pipeline of potential candidates. ATS applications for candidate and lead sourcing help extract important candidate data for profile matching, referrals, etc. 

Top candidate sourcing ATS API: Zoho, Freshteam, LinkedIn  

3. Resume parsing APIs

The next step after candidate sourcing is resuming sorting. Here resume parsing applications make sense for your ATS integration. These help with automated collection, storage and filtering of resumes. Resume parsing ATS APIs can help extract relevant information from resumes like skills, expected salary, previous experience, etc. to help align candidate profiles with job requirements. 

Top resume parsing ATS API: Zoho Recruit, HireAbility, CVViz

4. Interview management APIs

Resume screening needs to be followed by interviews to identify a role-fit for the candidates. However, interview management can be extremely complicated. ATS APIs for interviews help address all challenges, including assessments to gauge technical skills, scheduling, managing interview related travel information, etc. 

Top interview management ATS API: Calendly, HireVue, HackerRank,, Talview

5. Candidate communication APIs

Communicating effectively with the candidates is extremely important during the whole hiring process. ATS APIs for candidate communication can help automate email, text and other messages and keep track of all interactions in a streamlined manner. 

Top candidate communication ATS API: Grayscale, Paradox

6. Offer extension and acceptance APIs

Finally, once you decide to onboard a particular candidate, you need relevant ATS integration for extending the offer where the candidate can accept the same and share any document(s) that you might need for onboarding. Offer acceptance applications facilitate electronic signatures, and other formalities in a seamless manner. 

Top offer extension and acceptance ATS API: DocuSign, AdobeSign, DropBox Sign 

To check out Knit’s entire ATS and HRIS API catalog click here

7. Background verification APIs

When you are extending an offer, it is very important to ensure background verification or check for your potential employees. While you may have performed initial reference checks when you received the application, while hiring someone, you need to get a more comprehensive understanding of their profile. Doing this manually can be extremely time and resource extensive. 

Here, ATS integrations for background verification can help you run a check based on your required parameters on the candidate profile and flag any concerns if they appear. This way, you can be rest assured that the employees who come on board don’t have any form of ethical or legal or any other baggage. 

Top background verification ATS API: Certn, Hireology, HireRight, GoodHire

8. Analytics and reporting APIs

Now that your hiring is complete, you should analyze the entire process to gauge where you stand in terms of open positions, the DEI status for your organization, overall headcount, etc. ATS integration for analytics and reporting can help you get dashboard with all such information

Top analytics and reporting ATS API: LucidChart, ChartHop

ATS Integration Data Use cases 

One of the biggest benefits of ATS integration is that organizations are easily able to integrate a lot of data about the candidate and terms of hiring with significant new use cases. 

On one hand, organizations can internally use this data for better decision making and ensure effective human resources distribution. On the other hand, this data can become the foundation for other companies to facilitate seamless business continuity across industries. 

In this section, we will discuss the top ATS API use cases that SaaS companies are applying today.

I) Seamless onboarding

The first major use case for data from ATS APIs revolves around onboarding and building of HRIS data. With ATS integrations, important data about the candidate like demographic information, qualifications, documents, attachments, identity proofs etc. which are collected during the course of applicant tracking can be automatically transported to the HRMS or HRIS. Furthermore, the salary details and other terms of employment as shared during offer extension can also be communicated to the payroll APIs. 

This brings along twin benefits. 

  • First, the candidate doesn’t have to share the same information multiple times, making onboarding smooth for them. 
  • Second, your HR managers also don’t have to invest manual bandwidth and efforts in replicating the data for their records. 

II) Compensation management 

As mentioned, ATS API integrations can ensure that all details about the candidate compensation are shared with the payroll application to facilitate correct salary calculation and on-time disbursement. This is specifically useful if you are on a mass hiring mode and don’t want to delay your payroll. 

Furthermore, compensation data from your ATS, not only for the selected candidates but also the salary expectations and other details can help you ensure fair and equitable compensation management. This data can help you understand what the market expectations are and how you are able to address the same. Similarly, data from ATS API can help gauge discrepancies or differences that might crop up across gender, experiences, level of seniority. Invariably, this data can help you facilitate fair pay based on market standards to attract the best talent. 

At the same time, third party companies which are experts in compensation management and consulting can integrate this data with their findings to help you with the best practices.  

III) Diversity and inclusion

An essential part that you need to focus on during hiring and afterwards is the diversity and inclusion aspect of your workforce. The ATS API data can help you understand the diversity of the candidate pool vis-a-vis the final hiring and closing of positions. Based on this data, your internal DEI team or external experts can help you understand if there is a leakage of diversity along the way. 

Invariably this will encourage you to understand if some part of your hiring process is biased or if you are using ATS applications which are not inclusive enough. You can identify the positions or roles where your diversity ratio is specifically low to understand the concerns. Simultaneously, you can make conscious efforts to bridge this lack of diversity. 

IV) Automated job posting

ATS API data will be incredibly helpful in automating the job posting process. For instance, data from interviews and other applications can indicate the pipeline of candidates and their status. In case the pipeline for a particular role is getting extremely weak with a lot of rejections during interviews or offer acceptances, your ATS application for job boards can be triggered for job posting followed by candidate sourcing and resume parsing. 

Here, the idea is to reduce manual time that goes into identifying which roles are still open and doubling down efforts on sourcing candidates for the same. This will only be possible when you can get real time data with continuous sync from your ATS APIs about the status of different candidates and applications.  

Key ATS API data models 

Most ATS apps have specific data models which they use to streamline workflow and dataflow. As a unified API for ATS integration, Knit focuses on the following data models for ATS API:

Application info

Contains all applicant details like job ID, status, owner, credited to (who receives credit for the application), applied at, updated at, etc. It also contains information about the candidate, location, links and documents attached, among others. 

Application stage

The stage at which the applicant is currently at, ranging from applied to selected or rejected with a stage ID and stage name. 

Application interview

Keeps all the information regarding a candidate's interview, when it is scheduled for, start time, end time, status, list of interviewers, location, etc. 

Application rejection

Contains data and information about any rejected application or candidate, including job ID, reason for rejection, rejected at which stage, etc. 

Application offers

All the offers extended to an application. It contains the details about the offer as well as the status to define whether the offer has been extended, signed, declined. It also keeps data on when the offer was extended, when it was closed, etc.

Application resume

Application resume or attachments refers to all the documents (such as resume, cover letter etc) which are associated with a particular candidate or application. They are present in the form of downloadable links and when it was created. 

Along with these application data models, Knit also offers several key job data models. For more details, check our documentation 

Get started with unified ATS API

Now that you understand different aspects of ATS integrations, it’s time to get started with it. If you look closely, you will realize that there are several categories of applications within the ATS segment. Each application comes with its own API, data syntax, end points, data models, etc. Due to this immense fragmentation in the ATS market, a unified API for ATS integration is the need of the hour. 

A unified ATS API like Knit will help you normalize data from all your ATS applications and facilitate real time data sync to facilitate continuous and secure data exchange. 

However, when you plan to get started with a unified API for ATS integration, get yourself acquainted with the following questions.

What API format is being used?

The first thing you need to check is which API format does the unified API for ATS integration provide. By adding an additional abstraction layer, the unified API ensures that your engineering team has to only deal with only one API format. However, you need to check among the different API formats like REST, SOAP, RPC, GraphQL, etc. which one is the foundation for your unified API. 

Generally, REST based unified API is most sought after as it is lightweight, independent, scalable and flexible.  

How does it ensure authentication?

You need to ensure that your unified API for ATS integration supports unified authentication. Here, you don’t have to force custom logic to factor in different forms of authentication based on different applications. Rather, there is a single form of authentication that you can rely on, whereas integrating everything on the backend to prevent the back and forth is taken care of by the unified API provider. 

What is the set API rate limit?

Rate limit specifically refers to how many API calls can you make in a given period of time for information request or exchange. If you have a lower rate limit and more API calls, it can lead to distorted unified API behavior. 

This request or rate limiting needs to be made in conjecture with your customer needs to ensure smooth functioning. 

Are test accounts available?

You might add more ATS APIs to your unified API as your scope or need increases. However, chances are you might want to try them out before you actually implement them for your customers. Therefore, you should check whether or not your unified API offers test accounts. Their presence is imperative especially from an active development perspective and to ensure smooth functioning before you go live with new features or applications. 

Does it offer unified pagination?

Pagination essentially refers to how the data from different application APIs get sorted for exchange. A unified API for ATS integration should provide you with unified pagination, which supports all forms of pagination. A unified API can help abstract all forms of pagination including offset pagination, page pagination, cursor pagination, link pagination, etc. Post abstraction, it provides a unified pagination that provides a more consistent and better experience.  

What is the architecture followed?

In a unified API, you can use either webhook or polling first architecture for data sync. 

  • In a webhook architecture, the data gets synced automatically, with a push-based sync and no polling infrastructure is needed by the customer. Here, data updates are synced as and when they happen. 

  • However, for polling first architecture, data updates rely upon poll databases, requiring a separate infrastructure. You need to make an API call at frequent intervals to ensure data is synced periodically.

Thus, you need to decide which architecture you need. From an ease of use perspective, webhooks architecture makes sense for continuous sync without the need to maintain any additional infrastructure. 

Does it ensure ATS integration management?

Finally, you need to ensure that your unified API supports ATS integration management once the APIs have been implemented. Gauge whether or not it bears full responsibility for troubleshooting, handling errors and all other maintenance related activities. 

Knit unified API for ATS integration

As a unified API, Knit seeks to make it seamless for SaaS businesses to implement native integrations to scale their growth. With Knit API, you can shift the heavy lifting of integration building and maintenance as it takes care of:

  • Continuous data sync with a 100% webhook architecture (Knit is the only unified API in the market today that does not store any of your end-user data at our end, ensuring better security. Learn more)
  • Push based data-sync model, eliminating the need for any polling infrastructure
  • Customizable scopes for giving your end-users granular control 
  • DIY dashboard to make it easier for your CX to solve customer issues
  • Seamless integration maintenance and management, error handling, etc. 

Overall, with Knit as your unified API for ATS integration, you can save thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in engineering resources, enabling you to provide a consistent developer experience and leverage ATS data from different applications to supercharge your ATS and hiring process. Get you Knit API keys today

Wrapping up: TL:DR

As we draw this article to a close, it is important to note that a unified API for ATS integration can help you seamlessly deal with the ATS market fragmentation and ensure smooth data exchange. Keep in mind factors like common authentication, pagination, test account, rate limits, etc. when making a choice. 

Sudeshna Roy

Lead Content Strategist, Knit

Decoding product and generating users with valuable content

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Sep 29, 2023

New Feature: User Management


Knit has recently rolled out one of its most anticipated features: User Management.

With the User Management feature you can now add multiple users with different capabilities to your Knit account based on their roles. 

In this article, we will discuss how to get started with the User Management feature and maximize its benefits.

What is User Management?

The User Management feature allows you to add multiple users to your organization’s Knit account and also assign them roles and permissions . It means multiple users can login and have access to your organization’s integrated accounts and various other features as a part of integration management. 

Knit currently serves 3 categories of possible roles for any organization. 

1. Admin

Admins have full access to all the features in the dashboard. They are in a way the primary users who have the right to add/edit/remove new users.  

2. Member

Members have access to only manage integrations and webhooks. Unlike Admins, they cannot add/update users or make changes to the organization’s account with Knit.

3. Billing Contact

Billing contact has access to only billing related options, like editing payment details, selecting plans etc.

For more information on setting up the User Management feature, take a look at this video

How to access the User Management page

When you\ sign up to your Knit Dashboard, you will be logged in as an administrator of the organization you have just created. 

You can then access user management by going to the settings page.

In the settings page you will have access to user management, among other settings.

The User Management screen shows you all the users assigned to your organization, their emails, permissions and also gives you the option to see and edit their roles.

To invite a new user to your org, click on the Add User button on top right.

Here, you can enter the email ID of the person you’d like to invite to join your organization. You can also set their role. Invited users will receive an invite link on their respective email ID.

For detailed information about dashboard access for each role, be sure to check out the User Roles tab.

You can also edit the roles for a user, and resend the invitation to invited users.

What if we have already created multiple separate accounts and want to combine them?

If you have already created multiple separate accounts (by signing up separately with your individual email IDs), we can help you combine them into a single account. 

In the process, we will also combine your integrated accounts, and organizations from multiple accounts.

However, it would not be possible to transfer pre-existing syncs, logs and issues. As a result, once the integrated accounts are transferred, you’ll have to restart the sync for them.

Note: If you have created multiple accounts for testing and production, we recommend that you do not to merge them as the User Management feature does not provide for segregation of environments. 

Thus, it is best to have a separate account for production and for testing in that case.

Let’s get started

Please reach out to with the list of email addresses (along with their respective roles) that you would like to combine and we’d be happy to help you through it! 

Use Cases
Sep 26, 2023

How Can Marketing Automation Tools Build More CRM Integrations in 80% Less Time


Marketing automation tools are like superchargers for marketers, propelling their campaigns to new heights. Yet, there's a secret ingredient that can take this power to the next level: the right audience data

What better than an organization’s CRM to power it? 

The good news is that many marketing automation tools are embracing CRM API integrations to drive greater adoption and results. However, with the increasing number of CRM systems underplay, building and managing CRM integrations is becoming a huge challenge. 

Fortunately, the rise of unified CRM APIs is bridging this gap, making CRM integration seamless for marketing automation tools. But, before delving into how marketing automation tools can power integrations with unified CRM APIs, let’s explore the business benefits of CRM APIs. 

10 ways marketing automation tools can maximize results with CRM API integration

Here’s a quick snapshot of how CRM APIs can bring out the best of marketing automation tools, making the most of the audience data for customers. 

1. Customer segmentation and content personalization  

Research shows that 72% of customers will only engage with personalized messaging. CRM integration with marketing automation tools can enable the users to create personalized messaging based on customer segmentation. 

Users can segment customers based on their likelihood of conversion and personalize content for each campaign. Slicing and dicing of customer data, including demographics, preferences, interactions, etc. can further help in customizing content with higher chances of consumption and engagement. Customer segmentation powered by CRM API data can help create content that customers resonate with. 

2. Enhanced lead nurturing for higher conversion 

CRM integration provides the marketing automation tool with every tiny detail of every lead to adjust and customize communication and campaigns that facilitate better nurturing. At the same time, real time conversation updates from CRM can help in timely marketing follow-ups for better chances of closure. 

2. Churn prediction and customer retention

As customer data from CRM and marketing automation tools is synched in real time, any early signs of churn like reduced engagement or changed consumer behavior can be captured. 

Real time alerts can also be automatically updated in the CRM for sales action. At the same time, marketing automation tools can leverage CRM data to predict which customers are more likely to churn and create specific campaigns to facilitate retention. 

3. Upsell and cross-sell campaigns

Users can leverage customer preferences from the CRM data to design campaigns with specific recommendations and even identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. 

For instance, customers with high engagement might be interested in upgrading their relationships and the marketing automation tools can use this information and CRM details on their historical trends to propose best options for upselling. 

Similarly, when details of customer transactions are captured in the CRM, they can be used to identify opportunities for complementary selling with dedicated campaigns. This leads to a clear increased revenue line. 

4. Automated campaign workflow to reduce operational overheads

In most marketing campaigns as the status of a lead changes, a new set of communication and campaign takes over. With CRM API integration, marketing automation tools can easily automate the campaign workflow in real time as soon as there is a status change in the CRM. This ensures greater engagement with the lead when their status changes. 

5. Event triggered campaigns for faster TAT

Marketing communication after events is an extremely important aspect of sales. With CRM integration in marketing automation tools, automated post-event communication or campaigns can be triggered based on lead status for attendance and participation in the event. 

This facilitates a faster turnaround time for engaging the customers just after the event, without any delays due to manual follow ups. 

6. Lead source automation

The integration can help automatically map the source of the lead from different marketing activities like webinars, social media posts, newsletters, etc. in your CRM to understand where your target audience engagement is higher. 

At the same time, it can facilitate tagging of leads to the right teams or personnels for follow ups and closures. With automated lead source tracking, users can track the ROI of different marketing activities. 

7. Tailored social media campaigns and multi-channel marketing

With CRM API integration, users can get access to customer preference insights to define their social media campaigns and audience. At the same time, they can customize scheduling based on customer’s geographical locations from CRM to facilitate maximum efficiency. 

8. Data enrichment for enhancing lead profiles

With bi-directional sync, CRM API integration with marketing automation tools can lead to enhancement of lead profiles. With more and more lead data coming in across both the platforms, users can have a rich and comprehensive profile of their customers, updates in real time across the CRM and marketing tools. 

9. Lifecycle marketing automation

Overall, integrating CRM API with marketing automation tools can help in automating the entire marketing lifecycle. It starts with getting a full customer view to stage-based automated marketing campaigns to personalized nurturing and lead scoring, predictive analytics and much more. Most of the aspects of marketing based on the sales journey of the customer can be automated and triggered in real time with CRM changes. 

10. Customer reporting and analytics for decision making

Data insights from CRM API integrated with those from marketing automation tools can greatly help in creating reports to analyze and track customer behavior. 

It can help ensure to understand consumer trends, identify the top marketing channels, improve customer segmentation and overall enhance the marketing strategy for more engagement. 

Real-world Struggles of CRM Integration in Marketing Automation

While the benefits of CRM API integration with marketing automation tools are many, there are also some roadblocks on the way. Since each CRM API is different and your customers might be using different CRM systems, building and maintaining a plethora of CRM APIs can be challenging due to:

Data transformation inconsistency and campaign blunders

When data is exchanged between two applications, it needs to undergo transformation to become normalized with data fields compatible across both. Since each CRM API has diverse data models, syntax and nuances, inconsistency during data transfer is a big challenge. 

If the data is not correctly normalized or transformed, chances are it might get corrupt or lost, leading to gaps in integration. At the same time, any inconsistency in data transformation and sync might lead to sending incorrect campaigns and triggers to customers, compromising on the experience. 

Delays in campaigns 

While inconsistency in data transformation is one challenge, a related concern comes in the form of delays or limited real-time sync capabilities. 

If the data sync between the CRM and the marketing automation tool is not happening in real time (across all CRMs being used), chances are that communication with end customers is being delayed, which can lead to loss of interest and lower engagement. 

Customer data privacy and security concerns

Any CRM is the beacon of sensitive customer data, often governed by GDPR and other compliances. However, integration and data transfer is always vulnerable to security threats like man in the middle attacks, DDoS, etc. which can lead to compromised privacy. This can lead to monetary and reputational risks. 


With the increasing number of CRM applications, scalability of integration becomes a huge challenge. Building new CRM integrations can be very time and resource consuming — building one integration from scratch can take up to 3 months or more — which either means compromising on the available CRM integrations or choking of engineering bandwidth. 

Moreover, as integrated CRM systems increase, the requirements for API calls and data exchange also grow exponentially, leading to delays in data sync and real time updates with increased data load. Invariably, scalability becomes a challenge.  

Integration management

Managing and maintaining integrations is a big challenge in itself. When end customers are using integrations, there are likely to be issues that require immediate action. 

At the same time, maintaining detailed logs, tracking API calls, API syncs manually can be very tedious. However, any lag in this can crumble the entire integration system. 

Vendor management

Finally, when integrating with different CRM APIs, managing the CRM vendors is a big challenge. Understanding API updates, managing different endpoints, ensuring zero downtime, error handling and coordinating with individual response teams is highly operational and time consuming. 

How Unified CRM API ensures maximum integration ROI

Don’t let the CRM API integration challenges prevent you from leveraging the multiple benefits mentioned above. A unified CRM API like the one offered by Knit, can help you access the benefits without breaking sweat over the challenges. 

If you want to know the technical details of how a unified API works, this will help

Integrate in minutes with multiple CRM APIs

A unified CRM API facilitates integration with marketing automation tools within minutes, not months, which is usually what it takes to build integrations. 

At the same time, it enables connecting with various CRM applications in one go. When it comes to Knit, marketing automation tools have to simply embed Knit’s UI component in their frontend to get access to Knit’s full catalog of CRM applications.

Consistent data transfer guaranteed with normalized data models

A unified CRM API can address all data transformation and normalization challenges easily. For instance, with Knit, different data models, nuances and schemas across CRM applications are mapped into a single and unified data model, facilitating data normalization in real time. 

At the same time, Knit allows users to map custom data fields to access non-standard data. 

Real time campaigns and data exchange

The right unified CRM API can help you sync data in real time, without any external polling requests. 

Take Knit for example, its webhooks and events driven architecture periodically polls data from all CRM applications, normalizing them and making them ready for use by the marketing automation tool. The latter doesn’t have to worry about the engineering intensive tasks of polling data, managing API calls, rate limits, data normalization, etc. 

Furthermore, this ensures that as soon as details about a customer are updated on the CRM, the associated campaigns or triggers are automatically set in motion for marketing success. 

Never miss a data update

There can be multiple CRM updates within a few minutes and as data load increases, a unified CRM API ensures guaranteed data sync in real time. As with Knit, its in-built retry mechanisms facilitate resilience and ensure that the marketing automation tools don’t miss out on any CRM updates, even at scale, as each lead is important. 

Moreover, as a user, you can set up sync frequency as per your convenience.

Scale as you go

With a unified CRM API, you only need to integrate once. As mentioned above, once you embed the UI component, every time you need to use a new CRM application or a new CRM API is added to Knit’s catalog, you can access it automatically with sync capabilities, without spending any engineering capabilities from your team. 

This ensures that you can scale in the most resource-lite and efficient manner, without diverting engineering productivity from your core product. From a data sync perspective as well, a unified CRM API ensures guaranteed scalability, irrespective of the data load. 

Security at scale

One of the biggest concerns of security and vulnerability to cyberattacks can be easily addressed with a unified CRM API across multiple facts. Let’s take the security provisions of Knit for example. 

  • First, Knit ensures double encryption, i.e. it encrypts data at rest as well as when in transit for exchange. It also encrypts data with an additional layer of application security.
  • Second, Knit is the only unified API that doesn’t store any copy of the data and acts as a pure passthrough proxy. Data is only processed in Knit’s server and is directly sent to the customer’s webhooks. Protection of end-user data like this helps you easily gain customer confidence during sales conversations.
  • Third, Knit has wide ranging authorization capabilities, including, OAuth, API key or a username-password based authentication. Irrespective of what authorization protocol the vendor has, it can integrate with Knit.

Catch potential errors early on

Finally, integration management to ensure that all your CRM APIs are healthy is well taken care of by a unified CRM API. 

  • A unified CRM API like Knit provides access to a detailed Logs, Issues, Integrated Accounts and Syncs page for all integrations to monitor and track them along with possible RCA and solutions. This empowers your CX team to solve customer issues immediately without involving the tech team.
  • Furthermore, it enables you to track every API call, data sync, etc. as well as the status of webhooks registered for real time visibility in errors — ensuring that you are always on top of your data and minimizes the chances of any errors.  

Constant monitoring and on demand customer support

Finally, when you are using a unified API, you don’t have to deal with multiple vendors, endpoints, etc. Rather, the heavy lifting is done by the unified CRM API provider. 

For instance, with Knit, you can access 24/7 support to securely manage your integrations. It also provides detailed documentation, links and easy to understand product walkthroughs for your developers and end users to ensure a smooth integration process.

Get started with unified CRM API

If you are looking to integrate multiple CRM APIs with your product, get your Knit API keys and see unified API in action. (Getting started with Knit is completely free)

You can also talk to one of our experts to see how you can customize Knit to solve your specific integration challenges.

Sep 25, 2023

Unified API vs Workflow Automation: Which One Should You Choose?


In today's SaaS business landscape, to remain competitive, a product must have seamless integration capabilities with the rest of the tech stack of the customer. 

In fact, limited integration capabilities is known as one of the leading causes of customer churn. 

However, building integrations from scratch is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process for a SaaS business. It often takes focus away from the core product.

As a result, SaaS leaders are always on the lookout for the most effective integration approach. With the emergence of off-the-shelf tools and solutions, businesses can now automate integrations and scale their integration strategy with minimum effort.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of two most popular integration approaches: Unified APIs and Workflow Automation tools and provide you with clear instructions to choose the approach that suits your specific product integration strategy. (We also have a checklist for you to quickly assess your need for the perfect integration approach in this article. Keep reading)

We will get to the comparison in a bit, but first let’s assess your integration needs. 

Types of product integrations

In order to effectively address customer-facing integration needs, it is crucial to consider the various types of product integrations available. These types can vary in terms of scope and maintenance required, depending on specific integration requirements. 

To gain a comprehensive understanding of product integrations, it is important to focus on two key aspects. 

  • Firstly, identifying the applications that need to be integrated to determine the scope of the integration. 
  • Secondly, considering the number of integrations that will need to be regularly managed as time progresses.

Based on these considerations, you can gauge whether or not you will be able to take care of your integration needs in-house. 

Read: To Build or To Buy: The practical answer to your product integration questions

1) Internal integrations

When working on any product, it is often beneficial to connect it with an internal system or third-party software to simplify your work processes. This requires integrating two platforms exclusively for internal use. 

For example, you may want to integrate a project management tool with your product to accelerate the development lifecycle and ensure automatic updates in the PM tool to reflect changes and progress.

In this scenario, the use case is highly specific and limited to internal execution within your team. Typically, your in-house engineering team will focus on building this integration, which can be further enhanced by other teams who reap its benefits. Overall, internal integrations are highly distinct and customizable to cater to individual organizational needs.

2) Occasional customer-facing integrations

Another type of integrations that organizations encounter are occasional customer-facing integrations, which are not implemented at scale. Occasional customer-facing integrations are typically infrequent and arise as specific requests from customers.

In these cases, customers may have specific software applications that they regularly use and require integration with your platform for a seamless flow of data and automated syncing. For example, a particular customer may request integration of Jira with your product, with highly specific requirements and needs.

In these situations, the integration can be facilitated by the customer's engineering team, third-party vendors, or other external platforms. The resulting integration output is highly tailored and may vary for each organization, even if the demand for the same integration exists. This customization ensures that the integration reflects the structures and workflows unique to each customer's organizational needs. 

3) Scalable customer-facing integrations

Finally, there will be certain integrations that all your customers will need. These are essential functionalities required to power their organizational operation. 

Instead of being use case or platform specific, scalable or standardized customer facing integrations are more generic in nature. For instance, you want all your customers to be able to connect the HRMS platform of their choice to your product for seamless HR management. 

These integrations need to be built and maintained by your team, i.e. essentially, fall under your purview. You can either offer these integrations as a part of the subscription cost that your customers pay for your software or as add-ons at an extra cost. Offering such integrations is important to gain a competitive edge and even explore a new monetization model for your platform. 

Standardizing the most common integrations is extremely helpful to provide your customers with a seamless experience. 

Different approach to integrations

While companies can always build integrations in-house, it’s not always the most efficient way. That’s where plug-and-play platforms like unified APIs can help. Let’s look at the top approaches to leveraging integrations. 

1) In-house integration development and maintenance

Undoubtedly, the most obvious way of integrating products with your software is to build integrations in-house. Put simply, here your engineering team builds, manages and maintains the integrations. 

Building integrations in-house comes with a lot of control and power to customize how the integration should operate, feel and overall create a seamless experience. However, this do-it-yourself approach is extremely resource intensive, both in terms of budgets and engineering bandwidth. 

Building just integration can take a couple of months of tech bandwidth and $10-15k worth of resources. Integration building from scratch offers high customization, but at a great cost, putting scalability into question. 

2) Workflow automation 

Workflow automation tools, as the name suggests, facilitate product integration by automating workflow with specific triggers. These are mostly low code tools which can be connected with specific products by engineering teams for integration with third party software or platforms. 

A classic example is connecting a particular CRM with your product to be used by the end user. Here, the CRM of their choice can be integrated with your product following an event driven workflow architecture. 

Data transfer, marketing automation, HR, sales and operations, etc. are some of the top use cases where workflow automation tools can help companies with product integrations, without having to build these integrations from scratch. 

3) Unified API / API Aggregators

Finally, the third approach to building and maintaining product integrations is to leverage a Unified API. Any product that you wish to integrate with comes with an API which facilitates connection and data sync. 

A unified API normalizes data from different applications within a software category and transfers it to your application in real time. Here, data from all applications from a specific category like CRM, HRMS, Payroll, ATS, etc. is normalized into a common data model which your product understands and can offer to your end customers. To learn more about how unified APIs work, read this

By allowing companies to integrate with hundreds of integrations overnight (instead of months), a unified API enables them to scale integration offerings within a category faster and in a seamless manner. 

Now that you have an understanding of the different types of integrations and approaches, let’s understand which approach is best for you, depending on your scope and needs. 

workflow automation vs unified API

When to use Unified API

If you want scalable and standardized integrations, choosing a unified API is a sensible option. Here are the top reasons why unified API is ideal for standardized customer-facing integrations: 

  • They cover almost all integrations within a particular category or type. This suggests that you can integrate with all CRM platforms, including Salesforce, Zoho, etc using just one unified CRM API for example. (Check out Knit’s integration catalog across ATS, HRIS, Payroll. CRM and Accounting software)
  • Integration code is universal. You just need to integrate the unified API code into your application for a particular category once. Even when new apps are added within the unified API category, you automatically get access to and start syncing data with the new app without writing any additional line of code. This means that you build once and scale perpetually. 
  • It is extremely developer friendly and doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise or engineering bandwidth to understand and execute. 
  • You can retain a great degree of control. The integration backend can be managed by your engineering team, keeping control of transfer logic and also facilitating high levels of security. 
  • The data you receive into your product is normalized and can be directly synched without the need for any processing or transformation. (Moreover, unified APIs like Knit also allow you to map any custom data field from a specific integration that’s not included in the standardized model. Learn more)
  • Most unified APIs completely take care of integration maintenance once it is built. It means, your tech team need not worry about addressing ongoing customer issues at all. 

However, if you want only one-off integrations, with a very high level of customization, using a unified API might not be the ideal choice. 

Therefore, choose a unified API if you want:

  • To create standardized customer-facing integrations
  • High levels of data normalization and standardization
  • Scalable integrations that can be replicated across customers
  • Ability to add more integrations with minimal resource requirements
  • To control the backend code and drive customizations to a certain extent 
  • A native integration experience and feel and adherence to your brand guidelines

When to use Workflow Automation

Depending on the nature of your organization and product offerings, you might need integrations which are simple, external and needed to enable specific workflows triggered by some predetermined events. 

In such a case, workflow automation tools are quite useful as an integration approach. Some of the top benefits of using workflow automation to power your integration journey are as follows. 

  • Negligible engineering expertise needed. Workflow automation tools are created in a drag and drop manner, facilitating low-code or no- code functionalities. Event triggers are all you need to facilitate data sync from integrations. 
  • They come with pre-built connectors. This means that you can easily get started with pre-established workflows and integration patterns between different applications. 
  • You can easily outsource integration or hand it over to teams beyond your core engineering team as integration using workflow automation doesn't require knowledge about your core product, etc. 
However, the low-code functionality comes with a disadvantage of lack of developer friendliness and incidence of errors. At the same time, data normalization is a big challenge for applications even within the same category. 

The presence of different APIs across applications necessitates the need to develop customized workflows. Invariably, this custom workflow need adds to the cost of using workflow automation when scaling integration. As API requests increase, workflow automation integration turns out to be extremely expensive. 

Therefore, choose workflow automation if you want:

  • A low code integration solution
  • One-off customer facing integration or integrations for internal use
  • Limited functionalities for data normalization
  • Off-the rack workflows and integration syncs

How to choose the right tool for your integration strategy?

In the previous section, we explored different scenarios for building product integrations and discussed the recommended approaches for each. However, selecting the appropriate approach requires careful consideration of various factors. 

In this section, we will provide you with a list of key factors to consider and essential questions to ask in order to make an informed choice between workflow automation tools and unified APIs.

1) Integration complexity

You need to gauge how complex the integration will be. Generally, standardized integrations which are customer facing and need to be scaled, will be more complex. Whereas, internal or one-off customer facing integrations will be less complex. 

Try to answer the following questions:

  • How complex is your integration need?
  • Do you want to connect with multiple applications within a category or only one?
  • How much tech bandwidth do you need to spend on complex data transformation or normalization?

Depending on the nature and scope of complexity, you can choose your integration approach. More complex integrations, which need scale and volume, should be achieved through a unified API approach. 

2) Customization requirements

Next, you must gauge the level of customizations you need. Depending on the expectations of your customers, your integrations might be standardized, or require a high amount of customizations. 

If you need an internal integration, chances are high that you will need a great degree of customization. You may want to check on:

  • What is the level of customization you need for your integrations?
  • Do your customers need unique workflows in integrations? 

If you need to customize your integrations for specific workflows tailored to your individual customers, workflow automation tools will be a better choice.

Note: At Knit, we are working on customized cases with our unified API partners every day. If you have a niche use case or special integration need, feel free to contact us. Get in touch

3) Scalability and growth

It is extremely important to understand your current and expected integration needs

Internally, you might need a limited number of integrations, or if you have a very limited number of customers, you will only need one-off customer facing integrations. 

However, if you wish to scale the use of your product and stay ahead of competition, you will need to offer more integrations as you grow. Even within a category, you will have to offer multiple integrations. 

For instance, some of your customers might use Salesforce as CRM, but others might be using Zoho CRM. Invariably, you need to integrate both the CRM with your product. Thus, you must gauge:

  • How many integrations do you need currently and what is the scale of growth expected?
  • Do you need more than a few integrations or applications within the same category?
  • How integral is integration scalability to your business or product growth?

If scaling integrations faster is your priority, unified APIs are the best choice for you.

4)Technical expertise available

Your choice of the right integration approach will also depend on the technical expertise available. 

You need to make sure that all of your engineering bandwidth is not spent only on building and maintaining integrations. At the same time, the integrations should be developer friendly and resilient to errors. 

Try to check:

  • How much bandwidth does your engineering team have to dedicate to integrations, without diverting focus from core product? 
  • Has your team worked with a particular integration approach in the past?
  • Will your team need additional training to align well with the chosen integration approach?
It is important that not all your technical expertise is spent on integrations. An ideal integration approach will ensure that other team members beyond core engineering are also able to take care of a few action items. 

5) Turnaround time and budgets

You need to gauge how much budget you have to ensure that you don’t overshoot and stay cost effective. At the same time, you might want to explore different integration approaches depending on the time criticality. 

Time and budget critical integrations can be accomplished via unified API or workflow automation. It is important to take a stock of:

  • What is the available budget you have for integration building and maintenance?
  • How many integrations do you seek to accomplish with those budgets?
  • What are the expected timelines for the integrations to be implemented?

It is important to undertake a cost benefit analysis based on the cost and number of integrations. 

For instance, a unified API might not be an ideal choice if you only need one integration. However, if you plan to scale the number of integrations, especially in the same category, then this approach will turn out to be most cost effective. The same is also true from a time investment perspective. 

6) Ecosystem support

When you go for an external integration approach like workflow automation or unified APIs, beyond in-house development or DIY, it is important to understand the ecosystem support available. 

If you only get initial set up support from your integration provider/ vendor, you will find your engineering team extremely stretched for maintenance and management. 

At the same time, lack of adequate resources and documentation will prevent your teams from learning about the integration to provide the right support. Therefore, it is ideal to get an understanding of:

  • What is the support being offered by your integration partner?
  • What are the capabilities available within your team to facilitate the integration process?
  • Will the integration partner provide comprehensive documentation and resources for knowledge sharing?
  • What is the quality of pre-built connectors/ API that are being provided?

7) Future outlook and considerations

Finally, integrations are generally an ongoing relationship and not a one-off engagement. The bigger your business grows, the higher will be your integration needs both to close more deals as well as to reduce customer churn.

Therefore, you need to focus on the future considerations and outlook. The future considerations need to take into account your scale up plan, potential lock-in, changing needs, etc. Overall, some of the questions you can consider are:

  • How well will your integration approach support your scale up plan?
  • Will the integration approach seamlessly adapt to the changing integration landscape?
  • Are there lock-ins or commitments that come along with any particular approach?

Understanding these nuances will help you create a long-term plan for your integrations. 

Wrapping up: TL:DR

When building integrations, it is best to understand your use case or type of integrations that you seek to implement before choosing the ideal product integration approach. While there are numerous considerations you must keep in mind, here are a few quick hacks.

  • Choose workflow automation for one-off customer facing integrations where you need a low-code editor with pre-built connectors. 
  • On the other hand, go for a unified API approach if you want to create standardized customer-facing integrations which you can scale.

Knit unified API helps you connect with multiple applications within the CRM, HRIS, ATS, Accounting, category in one go with just one API. Talk to one of our experts to explore your use case options or try our API for free

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