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interactive Costing Tool (iCT): Getting started




The new 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 new digital version of the Excel-based predecessor will enable 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 new CPMS-based system will ultimately make it quicker and easier to set up commercial studies in the NHS through increased accuracy and visibility of commercial costing. The new 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 new web-based iCT will work on any computer - overcoming software compatibility issues with the existing Excel-based version of the tool 
  • Usability
    With a simple layout, the new iCT will be 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 new system will be a seamless process, improving system reliability
  • Improved audit functionality
    The new app will contain 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
    The new iCT will enable resource requirements determined at a site level will 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

iCT functionality update: March 2020

We have recently implemented two changes to the interactive Costing Tool (iCT) module on CPMS, requested by iCT users. These changes will:

1. Allow company representatives to add site representatives to studies directly

The process of adding site representatives to the study record has previously only been done by the NIHR CRN’s Industry Team and the Study Startup Manager at the request of the Company Representative for a study in CPMS. From 11 March 2020, Company Representatives will be able to add individual site representatives to the study record themselves - as long as those representatives have active CPMS accounts. The section of the iCT enabling this will become available as soon as the Study Resource Review or validation is completed as a feasibility service.

2. Move Setup and Closedown Costs from the study level only to show at the site level

Previously, setup and close down costs were only available to be inserted at a site level in iCT (i.e. after the initial Study Resource Review or validation was completed as a feasibility service)Up. From 11 March 2020, Company Representatives will be able to add setup and close down activities to the iCT right from the start of their submission for a Study Resource Review. A tab will be available within the interactive Costing Tool page of the submissions window and will be titled 'Setup and Closedown' to capture this information separately to the per patient budget.

Both of these changes have been requested by users of the iCT and are expected to streamline and speed up sponsor companies use of the system in future.

The changes are planned for released overnight on Tuesday 10 March and will, therefore, be available to users from Wednesday 11 March.

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.