Two years ago, when David Sheppard inherited the responsibility for technology at Fleet Financial Group Inc., he could see that 1994 would be an especially challenging year.

Fleet, whose $48 billion in assets make it New England's largest financial institution, had become known for its effective consolidation of acquired banks. And the company was beginning to talk about a mammoth reengineering effort - Fleet Focus - that would build upon the scale economies gained on the acquisition trail.

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