A Systematic Model for Improving Software Quality in the Financial Service Organization


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date21 Nov 2017


Emerging technologies in information and communication drives a revolution of transformation global digital economy arising from the widespread innovative business model and capture the profits of commercial returns from the evolving competitive market. Highly-regulated financial services are not only one of the most dynamic segments of the global economy but also one of the largest customers of technologies such as electronics system in trading multicurrencies across several sophisticated financial instruments against dynamically changing regulatory authorities globally. Financial leaders are under very high pressure to deal with the complex technology issues, aggressive time to market for meeting their customer demands and regulatory modernization in the growth of the software-based financial technology to optimize the innovation and protection of customer's interests for ensuring the appropriateness of policies while regulations remain relevant and governed. The industry has not realised the importance of public confidence in our financial ecosystem. By making optimal business investment decisions, it is not only to avoid numerous technological failures and prevent service outages for millions of users and economic losses, but also to ensure that the specific requirements for regulated financial services are not compromised in particular. Even though software quality models are well-accepted means to support quality management of software delivery, the quality of software delivery is still highly influenced by the experience of software engineers. Quality management in software is often about ensuring product quality through testing, but experience has shown that process quality has a significant influence on the quality of the software. Total Quality Management (TQM) describes that a good quality product is determined by the high quality of the processes which lead to the product. Hence, to aim for higher targets, TQM should be adopted by organizational management to achieve best quality products and services through continuous improvement.

According to the results of studies obtained from industry professionals, it was indicated that a positive influence occurs when the systematic approach is used to facilitate the improvement of software delivery. However, academic discussions in engineering aspects of software and the adaptation of knowledge management in software engineering through TQM for financial services were not considered popular. Therefore, this project aims to develop a systematic model, named the Financial Software Excellence Model (FSEM), for improving software quality, and its implementation roadmap as guidelines to support the roll-out of a developed model. Its applicability for excellence transformation will be validated through a study case in a financial service organization. First, a FSEM model is developed, and then a FSEM implementation roadmap is formulated to support and ensure the implementation successfully. A real-life case study is employed to validate the applicability of the developed model and the implementation roadmap.

The systematic model is developed in three stages. First, the core quality performance characteristics in software delivery for a financial service are identified. Secondly, comprehensive analysis of the software quality performance problem is reviewed. Third, the uniqueness of the conceptual model is established in to tackle the challenges by leveraging the TQM philosophy of excellence in business from the latest non-prescriptive European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) excellence model. As a result, two parts are formulated in the FSEM model, namely "Enablers" and "Results". “Enablers” focus on how the organization is executed and operated with five criteria covering strategy, people, processes, assurance and application. “Results” focus on what the expected outcome to be measured and achieved against the targeted organizational objectives with four criteria covering customer results, people results, society results, and key results. Then, the implementation roadmap with four phases as guidelines including “Plan for the approach”, “Deploy the approach”, “Assess and Refine approach”, and “Action Implementation” are formulated to provide a pragmatic approach to support the implementation of the developed model for sustainable continuous improvement. Last, an industrial case study on the implementation of the FSEM model in a financial service organization is applied for validity of the practical application of the developed model.

To conclude, the developed systematic model as the proxy of TQM with its derived assessment criteria could be implemented successfully during the transformation for improving quality performance in which production incident, time-to-market and compliance risk are reduced. More important, the developed model in this work represents a significant advance over the generic excellence model by providing a systematic compliance-oriented approach to prioritise improvement opportunities, determine the right decision and take prompt action to achieve excellence of software delivery for regulated financial service organizations. This case study is the very first that attempts to demonstrate the feasibility of the developed model to undertake self-assessments internally; hence, the number of cases studies could be further rolled out for benchmarking internally and even externally with the same industry sector for establishing good practices in promoting governance, risk and compliance for driving sustainable continuous improvement.