5 Crucial Steps to Building Authority in Software Development

5 Crucial Steps to Building Authority in Software Development

Jun, 28, 2024

10 minutes

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Establishing yourself as an authority in software development has become an indispensable part of building towards success.

Your reputation is a reflection of the work you do – its quality, accuracy and reliability. It’s a testament to your expertise and ability to consistently deliver results that delight your clients and end users.

Often, that reputation and established authority is going to be what sets you apart. Potential partners and clients alike will look to your portfolio, testimonials or reviews to determine whether you’re the right choice for them.

You may have the best product or service out there, but if you don’t actively work on marketing it, chances are it may not reach your desired audience.

How does one then go about becoming an authority others look up to?

Understanding what authority is

To become an authority in software development, you first must understand what authority is and how it manifests.

Most commonly known as thought leadership, authority is built on establishing credibility and trust in your industry – with your potential and existing clients and industry peers. It involves demonstrating expertise, delivering value-added solutions, and building long-term relationships with clients to drive business success.

3 ways you can recognize authority on the market

#1 They are thought leaders in their field

Companies that are authorities in what they do are recognized as leaders in their field, possessing deep knowledge and understanding of the products, services, and industry they work in. They stay up-to-date with industry trends, innovations, and best practices, positioning themselves as a trusted source of information and guidance.

#2 They share their knowledge with the community

Thought leaders are not gatekeepers. They thrive on sharing their knowledge, insights and perspectives through various channels such as blog posts, whitepapers, public speaking, and social media. By offering valuable and relevant content to the community and the clients, they demonstrate their expertise and establish credibility with both current and potential clients.

#3 They are praised by their clients and partners

Trust is crucial in business relationships. As an authority, you prioritize honesty, transparency, and integrity in all your interactions. You deliver on your promises, consistently provide high-quality products or services, and address any concerns or issues promptly and effectively. 

Building trust with clients fosters long-term relationships and loyalty to your brand.
Clients seek out authorities because they trust their ability to provide solutions to their problems or address their needs effectively. As an authority, you listen actively to clients’ challenges, understand their goals and objectives, and offer tailored solutions that add value and drive results. Your track record of success and satisfied clients further solidifies your authority in the market.

In essence, being an authority for the market and clients means being a trusted advisor, thought leader, and problem solver who consistently delivers value and fosters positive relationships with clients both now and in the future.

5 steps to becoming an authority in software development

Now that we’ve established how to recognize authority, let’s look at 5 ways you can go about becoming one.

#1 Choose a field you excel at

Do what you know.

If you want to be perceived as an authority in software development, pick a niche, a domain in which you’ve gathered extensive experience. True authority takes time and dedication, so build on your existing knowledge and credibility.

Don’t hop onto trending bandwagons just because they’re the flashy new thing. If it happens to be something you excel at – go for it. If you just want to take advantage without the know-how to help guide you in the right direction, it’ll be tougher to break into the field, and especially start building authority.

“For more than 10 years we have been working in the telco BSS/OSS domain, from tier 3 to tier 1 operators, and in cybersecurity engineering and IoT. We have vast experience in product building, system integration, automatization and digital transformation so we focus on those industries, not just from a technology perspective but also from a domain expertise perspective. Domain expertise is the thing that makes all the difference, technology is there to follow.”

Ivan Žganjer, Tech Lead at Leapwise

#2 Do your research & take ownership of your projects

What clients primarily want is domain expertise. They’re biased – if you don’t understand their terminology and business processes, they’ll choose someone who does.

Take banking for instance – if you don’t understand dunning or fraud processes, you won’t be able to close the deal.

You have to come with specific industry knowledge and, as much as possible, steer them towards industry standards and best practices, which will allow clients to avoid vendor lock-in (at least to some extent), but also increase maintainability and upgradeability of their software.

This is why you’re the one that needs to drive the entire process from beginning to end, not just from a technology perspective but also from a domain perspective – regardless of the framework being used (Scrum, TOGAF, SAFe…).

“So far we haven’t faced a project that had all the prepared documentation, where the client had the answers to all of our questions. On the contrary, we always need to come prepared, and have both questions and most of the answers beforehand — interviews and discussions with clients are there just for the details.”

Zlatko Horvat, CEO at Leapwise

#3 Never stop learning

As industry evolves and new practices develop, it’s inevitable to keep evolving with it. Alternative is, you fall behind.

That’s why it’s important to invest conscious effort in following the newest industry standards or be a part of innovating new ones. To do so, companies have to support further education and nurture the development of their employees.

That means following your employee development progress and providing opportunities to expand their current knowledge and skill set – be it in the shape of mentorship guidance, certifications, conferences or meetups.

Your company is your employees and how well they do reflects on the overall company trajectory.

“In agreement with each person in our team and understanding their professional aspirations, we craft their individual development plan. The idea behind such a structured and long-term people development plan is to guide our team towards reaching its full potential. We always make sure to connect one goal from each career development plan with globally recognized education and certifications in chosen fields.”

Mirna Horvat, COO at Leapwise

#4 Engage with your community & showcase achievements

To have authority is to show it. To have knowledge is to share it.

If you want to build on your expertise and credibility in the industry, it’s crucial to engage with your audience:

  • Participate in online communities and groups on social media.
  • Attend and speak at events and conferences.
  • Build your content around your client portfolio (testimonials, use cases and case studies), but also highlight any certificates and awards as further proof of your reputation and credibility.
Zlatko Horvat, Leapwise CEO, at Saastanak panel

“We love to exchange knowledge at conferences and meet like-minded people, but we’re also really proud of our years-long partnership with various educational institutions in which we share our hands-on experience with students. We’re also committed to sharing best practices on various topics through our blog, handbooks and newsletters — from programming and marketing to employee management.”

– Martin Blažević, Tech Lead at Leapwise

#5 Stay honest

Don’t oversell what you can’t deliver. In any industry, you can’t fake that you’ve done a project before, so it’s best to be honest from the start. The people who will use the software you’re selling are the ones who understand the business needs of their company better than anyone, so you can’t fool them nor should you even try.

“The one thing that makes all the difference is that you are able to tell your customer what is best for them, maybe another solution, maybe another vendor. At the end of the day, they’ll respect it and remember it. So, maybe you won’t work on this project, but you’ll work on the next one, or they will recommend you to others. It definitely pays off later to be able to say we can’t do this, not in this timeframe, we don’t have these skills or we think developing this software does not have a business case. Bottom line is, we are here to create a solution to a real world problem, not to create one for our clients.”

– Zlatko Horvat, CEO at Leapwise

Quality code as the basis of authority in software development

The cornerstone of every top-tier software is manifested through adherence to clean code principles and profound domain knowledge. Our commitment to achieving that excellence filters through everyday aspects of our work.

With our team of dedicated developers and specialists, most of them Mid and Senior level, we do custom development for global enterprise clients, and are currently developing several products of our own.

In the last eight years, we’ve worked on more than 50 successful projects that have helped us sharpen our skills and grow our own authority in software development. And the way we’ve approached that was through agile and modular development of software, as well as certified and dedicated teams.

Building Leapwise’s authority in the industry was a multifaceted initiative through which we focused on creating a systematic approach to work, maintaining industry standards, fostering open communication, and investing in the continuous education of our team.

And here’s a more complete overview of how we’ve done it.

#1 Standard architecture

Internally, we’ve developed several concepts, including various architectural templates tailored to specific types of projects and their needs.

Projects that require faster implementation can rely on simpler and modular architectures, while complex projects require ones that are more robust. Although primarily acting as guidelines, these templates also improve software development process.

These architectures enable teams to choose the best approach for each individual project. Not only that, but they also help engineers get familiar with the code quickly and ease into an application they have no previous experience with.

This helps teams scale faster and facilitates transitions between teams, for example, from our systems integration team to the product team — and vice versa.

#2 Internal coding guidelines

We’ve written internal backend and frontend guidelines that define the common use of technology, frameworks, and terminology for our development teams. As such, they are a stepping stone for every developer at Leapwise.

They are the reason everyone has the same approach to work and coding and why everyone, within or between teams, is so in sync. Ensuring consistency in language is crucial for effective communication among team members, but also for a systematic approach to software development. Having your own reference you can always come back to is extremely important, especially when it comes to staying independent of third-party libraries and unknown authors.

Because we consider these guidelines the core of coding, we wanted to share the way we go about coding with others. Remember – to have knowledge is to share it – and we firmly stand by it.

That’s why we’ve turned these guidelines into a free-to-use Backend Handbook. It’s our way of giving back and offering inspiration, new perspectives and solutions to anyone who needs it.

Backend Handbook

#3 Structured approach to work

Our approach to work is based on the Scrum methodology, combining short daily syncs, sprints, and code reviews. The purpose of such structured meetings is to maintain transparency within and between teams, but above all, to ensure clear project and task planning and progress monitoring.

Daily syncs help track project progress on a daily and individual level, ensuring that every team member, at every moment, knows the challenges everyone faces and how they are being addressed.

Sprints and code reviews are particularly important for writing and maintaining high-quality, clean code, and code reviews, in particular, are two-fold.

At the team level, code reviews serve as a double-check – before release, team members have the opportunity to review what others have implemented and suggest potential improvements.

Code reviews at the company level are an opportunity for all developers, regardless of their team, to gather and share knowledge, best practices, and opportunities for improvement.

#4 Separate team for architectural direction

Besides internal syncs, we’ve also established a team that encompasses various departments and provides strategic guidance and oversight over the architectural direction of the organization.

This team usually consists of experienced Software Architects, Tech Leads, and other key stakeholders who collaborate to ensure that architectural decisions align with business goals, technical standards, and best practices. Such an approach further ensures open discussions, continuous evaluation of what we have learned so far and knowledge sharing.

#5 People building

Aside from software development, we are equally focused on the development of our people as professionals.

As we aim to be well-versed in several different domains we work in, we provide our employees with individual development plans, the best global education and certifications:

  • OCA, OCP, Scrum Master, TOGAF, Spring Certified Professional, DevOps Engineer, or PRINCE2 certifications,
  • GitNation education,
  • training sessions with renowned global Java Champions like Victor Rentea, Venkat Subramaniam, Josh Long, or Vlad Mihalcea, among many others.

There are no shortcuts to becoming an authority

Time, dedication and genuine, experience-backed expertise. This is what it takes to establish yourself as a reputable authority in the field.

There’s no overpromising and under-delivering in software development. You have to cultivate trust by consistently delivering high quality solutions that address client and end-user needs directly.

This is what will build your reputation among existing and potential clients and what will, in the long term, set you apart as an authority, a thought leader backed by a successful track record.