Business challenge

To help support positive care outcomes across the UK, NIBSC aimed to deliver value-added services to its clients by adopting the GS1 and PEPPOL standards mandated by the NHS eProcurement strategy.


Working with Kodit and IBM’s PEPPOL access point, NIBSC is set to achieve timely compliance with the new procurement standards—helping it transact more effectively with its clients.


Up to 20%

faster order processing anticipated once NIBSC’s PEPPOL service goes live

Helps deliver

accurate, high-quality test data, contributing to positive care outcomes

Helps reach

new clients around the world, enabling NIBSC to grow its revenues

Business challenge story

Preparing for a procurement transformation

In the UK healthcare system and around the world, the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) plays a vital role in providing biological reference materials, testing products and carrying out research.

Paul Bolton, Sales and Distribution Manager at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, explains: “One of our primary goals is to deliver services that support public health in the UK, which include the provision of reference reagents to test for diseases and infectious agents. Our status as the World Health Organization International Laboratory for Biological Standards means that in many cases we are the only provider of these biological reference materials and testing products. For that reason, our ability to deliver quickly to our clients can make an important contribution to health outcomes both for individual patients and the public.”

To realize procurement efficiencies, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has launched an eProcurement strategy. To comply, NIBSC must transition to international standards for trading partner communication, including GS1 product and location coding and the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) framework for electronic trade. Funded by the European Commission, PEPPOL offers messaging standards to facilitate the exchange of documents such as purchase orders, advice notes and invoices without the cost and complexity of manual intervention.

“Our existing manufacturing resource planning system was unable to accommodate the many new product data attributes we needed,” comments Bolton. “We saw the NHS eProcurement strategy as a valuable opportunity to replace it with a PEPPOL-ready inventory management platform—enabling us to deliver value-added services to our clients.

“To achieve our goal, we needed to digitally re-categorize and physically re-label more than three million units of biological reference materials and testing products according to GS1- and PEPPOL-compliant data attributes.”

By adopting PEPPOL to drive our procure-to-pay process, we are confident that we will be able to serve our healthcare clients more effectively and support positive health outcomes across the UK.

Paul Bolton, Sales and Distribution Manager, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control

Transformation story

Building a solid foundation for compliance

After a thorough tendering process, NIBSC selected Kodit to help transform its operations to comply with the NHS eProcurement strategy. IBM is Kodit's preferred PEPPOL access-point provider, and Kodit is now working with NIBSC to help it achieve its compliance objectives.

Working together with Kodit, NIBSC mapped out the product and price data attributes it needed to collect from its inventory of products. Throughout the process, Kodit worked closely with Ingenica (the developer of NIBSC’s new inventory management system) to ensure that the solution included the appropriate fields for the new attributes.

“The NHS eProcurement strategy requires us to collect a total of 92 attributes for each of our products, which requires a major discovery exercise,” says Bolton. “Some of our products date back to the 1950s, and variation in the containers is extensive. For example, we have many different sizes of glass ampules and plastic vials, all of which must be carefully measured, weighed, categorized and re-labeled with GS1-compliant coding.”

NIBSC has now designed a product-attribute table comprising more than 1,300 items. By collecting attributes required by other leading healthcare bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration, the organization will be able to more easily integrate with additional global trading partners in the future.

He continues: “The assistance we received from Kodit throughout the process of building our asset table was invaluable. The Kodit team was always on hand to review and validate our data, and provide guidance and best practices around recording the information in our new inventory management system. We are now beginning the process of digitizing and re-labeling our inventory, starting with our products for the NHS.”

In parallel with the work on product attributes, Kodit is helping NIBSC to build integrations between its systems and the PEPPOL access point.

“Within a matter of weeks, we expect our catalog of NHS products to go live on the PEPPOL network,” says Bolton. “In the short term, we anticipate around 15 percent of the orders we currently receive from NHS clients via email will move to PEPPOL—and as more organizations across the NHS come onboard, we expect the volume of transactions on the platform to increase significantly.”

Results story

Supporting better care outcomes

As it prepares to go live with its PEPPOL solution, NIBSC is confident that it will achieve its compliance goals in a timely manner—contributing to value-added services for its clients.

“We see that our NHS eProcurement strategy transformation will create a virtuous circle,” explains Bolton. “By replacing manual inventory and order management processes with straight-through processing on the PEPPOL platform, we’ll be able to manufacture client orders faster and more efficiently. Any improvement in efficiency can ultimately contribute to positive healthcare outcomes by helping us deliver accurate, high-quality biological test data to hospitals across the UK.”

He adds: “We’re not there yet, but we believe the work we are doing now to automate our processes for dispatching and delivering orders will help us accelerate the fulfillment process by up to 20 percent—and our PEPPOL solution will also play an important role.”

As it embraces a more automated approach to trading partner integration, NIBSC predicts it will unlock new operational efficiencies—helping it expand its client base.

“In recent years, we’ve been increasing our sales volumes by around 10 percent per annum, both from relationships with clients in the UK and Europe,” Bolton says. “We think that the efficiencies we will gain via PEPPOL will help us continue our steady growth for up to three years with no need to increase our headcount. And because many other countries are considering similar integration standards, we believe our PEPPOL platform will make it easier for new clients to work with us.”

He concludes: “Thanks to our work with Kodit, we’re on the front foot when it comes to compliance with the NHS eProcurement strategy. By adopting PEPPOL to drive our procure-to-pay process, we are confident that we will be able to serve our healthcare clients more effectively and support positive health outcomes across the UK.”

National Institute for Biological Standards and Control

Based in Potters Bar, England, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) is a global leader in the characterization, standardization and control of biological medicines. NIBSC plays a major role in assuring the quality of biological medicines worldwide through the provision of biological reference materials, by testing products and carrying out research. NIBSC is part of the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which is in turn an executive agency of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom.

Take the next step

To learn more about IBM PEPPOL Services, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website:

Part of a group of associated companies with an aggregate combined turnover exceeding GBP100 million, Kodit is a software development company based in the United Kingdom. With expertise is in regulatory compliance helping medical device companies meet the needs of the FDA’s UDI initiative and the NHS’s e-Procurement strategy, Kodit uses IBM as its preferred PEPPOL access-point provider.