Calculating The Cost of an API

By David Honan in GET/technical Posted Jan 30, 2017

API integration requires more time, money and resources than many developers expect. When you work on custom integrations into cloud services, your first step is to map out all costs and develop a realistic budget. Use this seven-step process to improve the accuracy of your estimates and calculate the cost of an API.


Budgeting Time Spent Building custom Integration

1. Research 

Don't go into this process without a plan. Some areas to study in the API include: 
- Data structures
- Protocols
- User Authentication
The time you invest in this step depends on the complexity of your intended integration. CRM or financial services are more complex than a document storage service. 2-3 days. 

2. Build a Prototype 

Build minimal functionality to prove the connectivity of the API. Developers gain the hands-on experience they need to learn more about your product and the endpoint. 3-5 days. 

3. Minimum Viable Product 

You go one step beyond the prototype to produce the MVP. This build is the bare basics version that includes as few features as possible while still retaining what makes your product special. 5 days. 

4. Transaction Management 

You need to answer important questions such as "What happens when something fails?" to harden your integration and improve its durability. 5-10 days. 

Time Spent Servicing Your Integration

Once you complete your API build, you need to budget resources for maintaining it. 

5. Logging 

Log every transaction for debugging and customer support purposes. 2.5 days. 

6. Monitor and Alerts 

Add service alerts and webhooks to monitor the API integration. 2.5-5 days. 

7. Documentation 

Many developers treat documentation like a four letter word, but it's a critical step in this process. You reduce the time spend on maintenance and allow other people to understand what's going on. 2 days. 

Develop a Realistic Custom API Integration Budget

Use the average cost of your developers to determine a realistic cost based on the overall length of the project. In general, API integration takes between five and seven weeks. Once you calculate the cost of production, budget 25 to 30 percent of this expense to figure out your ongoing maintenance pricing. Related resources, such as project management, adds to your investment. 

If you don't have the budget, development cycles or willpower to repeat this process for each endpoint, use an API integration platform to streamline the process and reduce your costs. 

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