The Funniest CPO in the Business is Dead Serious About E-Invoicing and the Financial Supply Chain: Taulia Connect Dispatch

Yesterday, I tweeted from Taulia Connect that Tom Mathis, head of procurement at of Milliken (he calls himself chief sourcing officer), is the funniest CPO on the planet. He is in the wrong line of work. Seriously, he’s Seinfeld/Larry David funny. Mathis spent 45 minutes keeping the crowd on their toes with a bunch of one-liners — in addition to telling a great story of procurement, accounts payable and treasury improvements at Milliken.

Here were some of my personal favorite deadpans:

  • On how to encourage suppliers around on-boarding and registration: “No portal, no payment!” (said with a snarl)
  • On his former employer (who puts more than $1 billion each year on a p-card and drives suppliers to this payment mechanism even if it’s not appropriate for the spend type/category/vendor): “That’s a lot of frequent flyer miles.”
  • On using multiple sourcing tools: “Directworks is [great] for complex bills of materials — it’s not good for toilet paper.”
  • On whether suppliers are conducting due diligence on financing costs when presented with (and accepting) specific APRs for invoice discounts: “[I’m] not sure these people are always doing the math.”

Mathis wasn’t just funny. He was serious as well.

For example, he offered a very strong perspective around the “portal problem,” in which suppliers must log in to different buyer systems even within the same organization to manage profile and transactional details. He noted that even though Milliken is using Coupa for e-procurement, suppliers use the Taulia portal for invoicing, transactional document exchange, registration and related areas because of the supplier (and buyer) value associated from the trade financing programs they’re leveraging it for.

The program has scaled quickly in just a matter of years. To date, 1,300 suppliers have registered are active in the Milliken’s Taulia implementation, portal and network. Mathis notes that “Milliken is now at law of diminishing returns” in terms of program recruitment, given that only 300 suppliers comprise 90% of the spend value for the organization.

David Gustin, editor and co-founder of Trade Financing Matters, and I will cover additional highlights from Mathis’ talk, including the key lessons learned from building and scaling a broad-based financial supply chain program. The story is all the more remarkable given the status quo he inherited when he joined the firm (e.g., “60% paper invoicing, dysfunctional p-card program, homegrown supplier portal, no formal discounting program, etc.”).

Stay tuned!

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