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interactive Costing Tool (iCT): Getting started



The web-based interactive Costing Tool (iCT) provides a framework for transparent cost display and calculation to support swift local site budget negotiations when planning commercial trials in the NHS.

This digital version of the iCT enables even faster costing and contracting between the life sciences industry and the NHS as part of the study set-up phase. The tool is available as a module within the NIHR Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) and includes a number of major improvements.

This document will signpost you to all the available guidance you need to begin using the iCT.

Why use the iCT?

With improved usability, functionality, reliability and compatibility the CPMS-based system makes it quicker and easier to set up commercial studies in the NHS through increased accuracy and visibility of commercial costing. The iCT will be a fundamental tool underpinning the transition to a new single review process for all commercial studies - minimising the time required to negotiate the cost for delivering research at an individual site.

Here are some iCT functionality improvements at a glance:

  • Compatibility
    The web-based iCT works on any computer - overcoming software compatibility issues with the existing Excel-based version of the tool

  • Usability
    With a simple layout, the iCT is a fully automated costing solution - accessible from the NIHR Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) and no longer involving any manual steps from users

  • Reliability
    Updates or changes to the system are now a seamless process, improving system reliability

  • Improved audit functionality
    The iCT app contains a central log of all adjustments made as part of the contract negotiation process - enabling NIHR to further streamline processes by identifying any issues or delays

  • Visibility
    It enables resource requirements determined at a site level to be shared with others involved in the study within the system, avoiding duplication of effort.

What you need to use the system

  1. You will need a Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) account to use the interactive Costing Tool. This is available via individual or group email addresses (multiple uses of the same group log-in can be used via an ‘incognito’ or ‘private’ browser window). To create an account, follow the ‘Create an Account’ button on the CPMS homepage.
  2. We suggest that all users of iCT in CPMS view all of the instructional videos as they clearly link the various stages of iCT completion as it moves through the CPMS system. See ‘Video Tutorials’ below.
  3. You will also need a copy of the study protocol.

Where the data comes from

Guidance and supporting information

Functionality update: March 2021

We are currently defining system updates based on user feedback submitted. Further details of the specific functionality changes and implementation dates will be shared here in due course.

All these changes have been requested by users of the interactive Costing Tool and will improve usability when defining the NHS resource requirements and subsequent costs for individual studies.

Where can I get more advice or support

For general queries please contact

If you are seeking support at at a local level in relation to a particular site please contact your Local Clinical Research Network.

Colleagues from life science companies and Contract Research Organisations (CROs) can also join monthly 1:1 surgeries, dates for which will be posted on the website. Alternatively you can sign up to receive our newsletter to stay up to date on these developments.

Feedback provided in these sessions will be used to to assess the impact of iCT and to inform its future development. You can also submit your comments and suggestions via our feedback form.