Today, I am excited to have a new post in the Origins series where we hear from Admin Heroes on how they got their start with Salesforce. Today’s story comes from Joanna Iturbe. Enjoy!

I am the youngest of 12 children.  My joke is that my family could be used for any type of study because we’re so unique and diverse, and we’re large enough of a sample size.  The one common thread that has run through my family is that, for the most part, we’re ‘left-brained’ – logical – and with that, most of us have taken logic-driven careers as mechanics, law enforcement officers, engineers or computer scientists…except me.

When I was a senior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted my major to be in college, but I knew I did not want to major in computer science or engineering.  My mom brought home a pamphlet for public relations (PR), and I knew that’s what I was meant to do…talk…and put my spin on things to persuade people they liked me/my product/what I was doing!  I graduated from Baylor University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, a minor in business and a focus in French.

It was in my job as an admissions coordinator at Baylor that I was first exposed to  We hired an implementation partner and did a small implementation focusing on student recruitment and email marketing.  I quickly became infatuated with Salesforce and all of the power and potential it contains.  Turns out, I sort of had a knack for ‘IT-type’ things and Salesforce, specifically.  So, I took on the administrator role for our Salesforce instance.

In 2010 my husband and I (along with our newborn daughter) decided we really had the desire to move to Colorado, which is where we enjoyed escaping the heat of Texas during summer and skiing during the winter.  I knew I wanted to stay in higher education, but I wanted to move to more of an IT/CRM-related role.  I quite literally stumbled across a job at the University of Colorado Boulder in the distributed IT group, Leeds Technology Services, within the Leeds School of Business and as they say ‘the rest is history’.

Over the last four years, my family has expanded with the addition of another daughter, and my job has evolved into my current role as the Senior Software Applications and Project Manager.  Being in a smaller, distributed IT group, that allows me to expand my breadth and depth of knowledge across a suite of about 15 applications – everything from survey tools, room reservation systems, appointment making systems, scholarships applications, our CRM (Salesforce) and much more.  It keeps me on my toes!

Higher ed uses Salesforce robustly, and CU is no exception.  We use it for everything from recruitment and scholarships to career advising, tracking co-curricular activities and involvement in global programs, as well as internship, job placement and corporate and employer interactions, among other things.  We believe the things we’re doing at the Leeds School of Business and within the University of Colorado system are very exciting!

My on-going joke is that I use my PR degree every day trying to convince people I’m making their lives easier with technology, not harder!  As a fast-talking, multi-tasking technologist who embraces change, my lessons learned over the years have been around networking, user adoption and change management.


One of my favorite professional development books is Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.  Although I personally take the “analyze, think, change” approach, what I’ve come to discover is that change management is much more successful with the “see, feel, change” approach.

SEE: Lots of user acceptance testing (UAT), how-to videos, quick reference guides with hands-on practices and hands-on training for Go Live.

FEEL: Dashboards have been my success in getting people to believe that my hassling and hounding them to get data in the system really does pay off when they’re able to produce never-before-seen metrics and data points with hard facts instead of educated (or, not-so-educated) guesses.

CHANGE: Once the snowball starts rolling, make yourself available, as the administrator, to listen to all of the amazing – and sometimes really ‘pie-in-the-sky’ – requests your users start to bring to you.  Don’t brush them off or dismiss them because that will undercut their level of excitement and potentially negatively affect their utilization of the system.

Navigating the Stages of Acceptance

Support does not stop at ‘go live’.  In fact, that’s when it really starts.  On-going support for your users, old and new, as they navigate their way through the different stages of grief acceptance of a new system is critical to success.

User adoption reminds me a lot of raising and disciplining children: There’s no magic formula and what works is different for everyone.  I’ve found both in raising children and user adoption that it’s a fine balance between the top/down, stick approach and the bottom/up, carrot approach.

Chatter: Chatter is powerful.  It typically doesn’t have a great initial adoption rate because it’s one more thing to learn, it’s a ‘social’ tool, etc.  However, I’ve driven adoption by posting weekly tips, tricks and reminders.  Also, when someone emails me with a one-off question or request but the response will benefit multiple users, I mention the requestor via Chatter within their user group and include my response so users see that it eliminates back and forth emailing and is in one, centralized location for future reference.

“Snackforce”: My boss came up with the name, so I have to give him credit, especially if I end up having to Trademark it because it’s become so popular!  When we went live with our first phase, we wanted a way to stay in front of our users and keep Salesforce on their front burner, but we didn’t want to mandate another regularly-scheduled meeting.  We wanted to be proactive, not reactive, which led to the inception of “Snackforce”.  It’s an optional, monthly, informal, come-and-go one hour session where at least one Salesforce technologist is available during lunch. Users bring their lunch and we provide a dessert.  It’s in the same location at the same time, and we have Salesforce pulled up.  We work through questions, problems, concerns and requests in real-time.  It seems to be such a simple, straight-forward concept, but it’s been wildly successful.

Walk the Halls:  If you’re in a location where you can easily access your users, physically, then walk the halls!  There’s no better way to get organic, impromptu feedback:

“Oh, Joanna, good to see you! You know, I’ve been having this one issue with my cases for the last few days, but I’ve just been so busy…Can you help me?”

Why, yes, yes I can.

And, if you’re on an IT Service Management tool, like we are, there’s no better way to get some First Response Resolutions!

I’d be happy to talk further with anyone who’s interested in my journey to becoming an admin, what we’re doing with Salesforce at Leeds and CU, my hobbies and interests (like being Quality Control for my husband’s home-brewed beer, wine, mead and cider!), or if you’d like more information about our amazing implementation partner who specializes in Salesforce implementations for higher ed and non-profits.

You can reach me at:


Twitter: @joannaiturbe

Salesforce Community

Power of Us Hub (for non-profit and higher ed SFDC users)

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