SPSS Inc. announced that its statistics software will help students at a new course at the University of Colorado achieve perfection--near perfection, that is. The Boulder, Colo.-based university joins a handful of schools in offering Six Sigma Black Belt certification, the disciplined, data-driven approach for solving problems in any business process whose followers aim to achieve near perfection: fewer than 3.4 defects per million.

The course, "Six Sigma Black Belt," is offered through the school's Center for Advanced Engineering and Technology Education, and its students are professionals who will problem-solve the real-life issues they face at their regular jobs. The prospective Black Belts will use SPSS statistical analysis software to identify solutions to intractable and expensive problems at their business using advanced statistics within a problem-solving methodology.

"I have been using SPSS to train my clients in these tools for years, and use it myself when consulting. As I was planning the Six Sigma Black Belt course, I knew I wanted my students to have a chance to use the key capabilities offered by the SPSS software that will help them conduct the best statistical analysis in order to make optimal decisions," said Steven Ouellette, president of the ROI Alliance, who is offering the course in cooperation with the University of Colorado and the American Society for Quality, Boulder Chapter. "At its heart, Six Sigma is a business initiative, not a quality initiative, so it's imperative that the students use tools that can provide them with the broadest capabilities to solve problems."

Six Sigma aims for the total number of failures in quality to be fewer than 3.4 defects per million, equivalent to six "sigmas" using the sigma index. Pioneered by Motorola in the mid-1980s and embraced by world-leading companies such as General Electric and Ford, it has spread from the manufacturing sector to services companies and now is used to increase profit in a broad range of disciplines, including customer service.

According to the American Society for Quality, "The Certified Six Sigma Black Belt is a professional who can explain Six Sigma philosophies and principles, including supporting systems and tools. The Black Belt should demonstrate team leadership, understand team dynamics, and assign team member roles and responsibilities." Black Belt candidates are usually experts in business processes who will end up using what they learn to eliminate costs due to quality failures, resulting in bottom-line savings for their company.

"The Six Sigma Black Belt course provides another opportunity for SPSS to extend its presence in the university realm while at the same time helping businesses improve their profitability," said Robert Valencic, an SPSS executive with the company's higher education practice. "Our dedication to this market, one so important to our legacy, continues to thrive."

Further information on the course can be found at http://www.colorado.edu/ContinuingEducation/sixsigma/

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