Enterprise Shared Services

Enterprise Shared Services (ESS) brings together responsibility for HR, IT and Finance Shared Services, Properties Division and Digital Transformation Service (including nidirect) into a single directorate within the Department of Finance (DOF).

Overview of ESS

The primary function of ESS is to deliver efficient and effective customer focused services primarily to the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS). Its mission statement is "to make a positive difference to the delivery of public services through being customer-focused, high performing and innovative."

The ESS 2020 Strategy reflects work undertaken by the ESS senior management team and senior officials in DOF to develop the high level strategic direction for the future of ESS.

ESS annual updates provide information on ESS achievements throughout the financial year. 

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Memorandum of Understanding are offered within ESS Service Areas.

Finance Shared Services

Finance Shared Services are provided by Account NI.

Account NI is the financial processing centre for Northern Ireland Civil Service Departments and provides one streamlined service from purchasing through to payment of invoice. Staff in NICS departments have access to easy ordering through a web-based purchasing system that generates and issues purchase orders.

Account NI Service Level Agreement 2015-2016

HR Shared Services

HR Shared Services are provided by HRConnect and the Centre for Applied Learning (CAL).


HRConnect is the transactional Human Resource service for the NICS Departments, the NIO and other participating organisations. HRConnect comprises seven HR services:

  • external NICS recruitment
  • internal vacancy management
  • employee relations
  • non-industrial payroll
  • industrial payroll
  • learning and development
  • performance management

HRConnect enables staff to access HR-related information quickly and easily from their desktops and to perform many functions on a self-service basis. HRConnect provides administrative support and HR advice from the Shared Service Centre (SSC) at the Metro Building in Belfast.


The Centre for Applied Learning (CAL) is the key provider of training to staff in the Northern Ireland Civil Service offering training programmes at all levels including administrative, management and leadership training. CAL offers over 100 courses covering a wide range of topics. All CAL courses are delivered by professionally qualified staff, either within CAL or from an external delivery partner. To keep pace with changing trends in training and development, CAL increasingly uses a blended approach to meet learning needs in the most appropriate way. Blended learning can include pre-reading material, classroom training, e-Learning or a mixture of approaches.

CAL Service Level Agreement 2013-2015

IS Shared Services and Strategy

IS Shared Services and Strategy has three main business areas.

IT Assist

The primary function of IT Assist is the provision of common IT infrastructure services to approximately 21,000+ customers in NICS Departments, Agencies and more than 40 Non Departmental Public Bodies. Its customer base has also extended to the wider public service for reasons of enhanced service quality and value for money. This service covers the supply and maintenance of desktop computing, network infrastructure, internet protocol, telephony, data centre storage facilities, server hosting/support and helpdesk function; all via an Information Technology Information Library based industry standard best practice model.

IT Assist was recognised for Excellence 5 Star in the 2013 Ireland Excellence Award process and has been named as one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For in 2014.

IT Assist Service Level Agreement 2012-2016

IS Personnel

IS Personnel Branch delivers modern, professional Human Resource (HR) Services to ICT Grades on behalf of the Northern Ireland Departments and other bodies. 

The key functions of IS Personnel Branch include Strategic Workforce Planning, Vacancy Management and advice and guidance on ICT HR policies. IS Personnel is also responsible for the commissioning of ICT Technical Training and advises the Head of Profession on development of the NICS ICT Professional Agenda.

Enterprise Design Authority

The Enterprise Design Authority (EDA) develops NICS Information Communications Technology (ICT) policy and strategy. 

The current work focus is on developing a revised NICS Information Systems (IS) Strategy which will cover areas including mobile technologies, Big Data (working with large and often complex data sets), social and Cloud networking services. The move towards digital services creates great opportunities for the NICS and it is a key EDA responsibility to help departments fully exploit these.

Information Management Team in EDA are responsible for working with the NICS departments to champion and encourage adoption of best practice information management procedures. This is done through the Information Management Committee.

The Central Information Assurance Team in EDA provides guidance and assistance on a range of information assurance and IT security issues for the NI Civil Service and represents NICS interests at the UK Accreditors’ Forum and other Government events.

This work encompasses the development of related policy requirements and ensures that NICS policy is aligned with UK Government policy. The unit liaises directly with CESG and Cabinet Office as necessary for specialist advice and consultancy.

This team also supports the IA governance structures in NICS including the Information Governance and Innovation Board (IGIB) and the Risk and Information Assurance Council (RIAC) where it advises and assists departments with various activities in preparation for accreditation.

The Enterprise Design Team (EDT) in EDA focuses on such key areas as web and design services, NI transactional services and intranet and collaboration. EDT works to promote collaboration and innovation across the NICS through the use of new technologies, mobile development, and open source. 

Digital Transformation Service

Digital Transformation Service (DTS) provides the nidirect website and citizen contact centre services. The business area is also responsible for delivering the NICS Digital Transformation Programme and provides support and guidance to NICS Departments and other public sector organisations to ensure citizen facing services are transformed in a way which improves and simplifies government services.

NI Direct Memorandum of Understanding 2015-2016

Properties Division

Properties Division is responsible for the provision of government office accommodation and services throughout Northern Ireland, including new and refurbished accommodation, building maintenance and management and the Stormont Estate grounds.

It also has responsibility for promoting energy efficiency in the public sector, through both the Public Sector Energy Campaign (PSEC) and the implementation of policies stemming from EU Directives, as well as advancing sustainability.

It also has responsibility for Building Regulations legislation in Northern Ireland and manages the NICS Art Collection.

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