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interactive Costing Tool (iCT): Getting started


07 June 2019





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.

The information on this page will signpost you to all the available guidance you need to begin using the iCT.

The following animation provides an overview of the NIHR Clinical Research Network's Study Resource Review Submission and 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:

In response to feedback from users, a number of changes have been made in the iCT:

  1. The availability of a ‘Setup & Close-down’ separate to the per-participant budget at the study level. This allows Company Representatives to add generic Setup & Close-down activities to the iCT from the start of their submission, rather than only at the site level following validation.
  2. The ability for Company Representatives to add Site Representatives to the iCT themselves.
  3. The ability for Company Representatives to preview site costs before releasing to Site Representatives.
  4. The ability to mark a Site iCT as ‘Complete’ to indicate that the review of the site costs has been completed.
  5. The ability to be able to change the status of a ‘Complete’ Site iCT to allow amendments to be made.
  6. The ability for Company Representatives to Delete a Site iCT at any stage of the review process. Allowing Company Representatives to ‘re-release’ a Site iCT (by deleting and creating again) when an amendment is made in a Study-level iCT so that these changes will also be reflected in the Site iCT. Rather than having to update each Site iCT with the same amendment individually.
  7. NEW! The ability for users to add new occurrences/activity counts for an existing activity/visit without having to enter a free text comment, reducing the number of clicks and saving users time completing or reviewing the iCT.  

Functionality improvements to the iCT continue to be released with the next development focusing on reducing the ‘multiple clicks’ within the system. Future development will include functionality to manage inflation change for contracted studies and a mechanism for prioritisation of future user feedback is now in place to encourage the sharing of user improvement suggestions.

Please submit your comments and suggestions for the future development of the iCT via our feedback form.


Where can I get more advice or support

For general queries please contact

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