Freelancers and suppliers forced to wait months for payment

The introduction of Unit4 was supposed to simplify the payment process at TU/e. Teething problems were expected, but that frustration among employees and freelancers would mount so high was not foreseen back in January. Finance & Control was faced with a backlog of 5,000 invoices. Although the worst problems seem to be over now, many suppliers and freelancers are still owed a considerable amount of money by TU/e.

photo blackCAT / iStock

There is a lot of grumbling in the corridors of Matrix, MetaForum and the Auditorium about Unit4, the financial system that has been in use at TU/e since January. Invoices that go unpaid, leaving suppliers in a bind. Freelancers who have not received payment since January. Self-employed workers crying on the phone because their money is late. Project managers who are unable to see the status of the invoice and feel bad about it. What is going on?


During the first months that Unit4 was up and running, it took much longer than usual for invoices to get paid. Every day, TU/e receives hundreds of invoices, so any additional processing time quickly leads to a considerable backlog.

In the first half of February, there was a stockpile of about 5,000 invoices, including some from 2023, says Henk-Jan Bodewitz, Director of Finance & Control (F&C), when asked. By the first week of April, the build-up had dropped to a volume of 1,700 invoices, he says. The vast majority of these are recent, dating back no more than two weeks. We still have a few dozen invoices older than three weeks. These invoices are being given specific attention so that they’re paid as soon as possible,” says Bodewitz.

Teething problems

The F&C director is happy to explain how the problems arose and what work is being done behind the scenes to resolve them. “uniFI went live on January 1. The uniFI project comprises a financial system called Unit4 and a procurement system called Proactis. Upon its launch, a backlog in invoice processing started to build up,” says Bodewitz. “This was partly due to the learning curve of working with the new systems. In addition, the systems experienced teething problems. This had also been previously communicated by the uniFI project team. When new systems go into production, there are always hiccups involved. For example, in this case, the integration between the two systems did not function optimally on all points. Those bottlenecks were fixed by the uniFI team in cooperation with the supplier.”


Last week, Cursor received the following cry for help from one of the freelance translators responsible for the English texts. “Sorry to bother you, but I’m having a bit of a problem. You see, TU/e has stopped paying my invoices. I’ve sent quite a few payment reminders and followed up with phone calls. They keep saying they’ll look into it but nothing happens. I still have outstanding invoices from January which I’ve already had to pay turnover tax on,” says Lente van den Berg. Fortunately, she has more clients. “Although it's not causing me financial stress, it adds up to thousands of euros that I have yet to receive.”

Catching up

Meanwhile, F&C is working hard to catch up on the backlog. Bodewitz: “We had already deployed extra capacity before the go-live. We scaled up when it became clear that the backlog was mounting. We applied that extra capacity purposefully to clear the oldest invoices as quickly as possible. We made a separate effort to catch up on the invoices from 2023.”

Around 15,000 invoices have now been processed and paid for the first three months of this year. “That’s a normal number for the first quarter. TU/e uses a payment term of 30 days. Unfortunately, in the first months of this year, we were not always able to meet that payment term,” says Bodewitz. At the time of writing, translator Van den Berg still has seven overdue invoices, the oldest dated January 26, 2024.

F&C service

“The new system offers opportunities to work more efficiently and raise the services provided by Finance & Control to a higher level,” reads the F&C intranet page. Freelancer Van den Berg calls them good intentions, “but in my experience, it’s had the opposite effect. I never experienced any problems before this.”

Bodewitz understands the frustration of those submitting invoices. “It is, of course, very unfortunate that parties have had to wait longer than usual for their money, especially in the case of freelancers who depend on swift payment for their income. Unfortunately, and as unpleasant as it is, the extra capacity and measures failed to prevent the fact that some parties were paid later than desirable.”

According to Bodewitz, the worst problems are behind us. “We’re back to a situation where we’re able to pay incoming invoices within the usual term. We will continue to deploy additional staff in the coming weeks. If there are still individual cases, we will be able to resolve them quickly.”

Share this article