In the coming decade the destiny of many a financial institution will be determined largely by whether it has a strategy for guaranteeing the quality, reliability, and continuous improvement of its software-and how well it executes this strategy.

Institutions that aim to meet world-class standards-such as those established by the Software Engineering Institute, the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award program, and the International Organization for Standardization-will thrive. Those that do not will most likely face unnecessary crises, and some will even fail. The constant, unforgiving pressure on the financial services industry to produce quality software is bound to get even more intense.

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