Business AgreementsService Level Agreement

Operational Level Agreements (OLAs): What You Need To Know

An Operational level agreement is a system in which a service provider makes internal agreements for internal users to meet SLAs. Know more about its essential parts, components, rules and importance. 

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What is an Operational Level Agreement? 

In an Operational Level Agreement (OLA), the IT groups promise each other what they promise (OLA). OLA, also known as Operating Level Agreement, are internal agreements that a service provider makes for internal users to meet SLAs. 

Whereas, in a Service Level Agreement (SLA), the IT organisation promises the customer what the whole group promises to each other. 

The idea is that the promise made in the SLA must be measurable and fully supported by the OLAs on which the SLA is based.

Operational Level Agreements

Operating Level Agreements are internal agreements that a service provider makes for internal users to meet SLAs. The OLAs would be used to keep track of internal service commitments, like the following service goals:

  • The time it takes for IT groups to deal with problems or incidents that have been given to them
  • Servers that can run different applications are available.

Service Level Agreements

They are agreements between a service provider and a customer that happen outside of the company. They let your company keep track of how well it is meeting its promises to the customer, as set out in the SLAs. The agreement can have one or more service goals. Service targets can set penalties for not meeting an agreement, or they can set rewards for meeting or exceeding the agreed-upon goals.

Underpinning Contracts 

These are agreements used to keep track of how well an outside service provider and a vendor do.

Agreements between an outside service provider and a vendor are used to keep track of how well they work together. Most of the time, the main difference between OLAs and SLAs is that they make different promises: 

  • There is a promise made to the client or customer by the SLA
  • The OLA shows how much the organisation cares about its own internal groups. 

It also usually has a small group of people who get it, and it gives more information about the technical aspects of the problem or service than an SLA.

OLAs are used in ITIL and ITSM

One of the main things that ITIL and ITSM frameworks show is how an IT Service Provider and another part of the IT organisation connect. An operating level agreement is a way to show this connection. It talks about relationships at the operational level, like those between:

  • Service Desk
  • Support Group(s)
  • Incident Resolution
  • Network Management
  • Operations Management. 

People who work for the Service Management Team usually keep a document that shows all of these relationships in one place.

The Essential Parts of an Operational Level Agreement

At the most basic level, the OLA is a document that serves as a record between the people who signed it. 

General Overview 

The General Overview accomplishes three critical tasks:

  • Reaffirms the purpose of the parties’ agreement 
  • Outlines the agreement’s goal 
  • Highlights the document’s objectives.

Parties Responsible 

In this section, all the people who have a say in the project are listed. It includes their names, titles, and jobs.

Service & Charges 

This is the part of the document that has:

  • The agreed-upon Scope of Work (SOW)
  • Customer Requirements
  • General Service Terms
  • Service Hours and Operational Hours. 


Roles & Responsibilities of the Service Provider 

This lists every service provider who is inside or outside the company and explains what they do in great detail.

Hours of Coverage, Response Times, and Problems That Need to Be Solved

A lot is said here about operating hours and how to handle complaints. This section talks about a few main things:

  • Work Requests
  • Service Requests
  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Service Maintenance/Change Management
  • Service Exceptions. 

Reporting, Reviewing & Auditing 

This section talks about the term of the OLA and gives a timetable for audits, reviews, and reporting.

SLA Mandates for OLAs

It takes a long time to put together an OLA because it requires precision, attention to detail, and knowledge of how an OLA and an SLA work together, which takes a lot of time. 

The body of the SLA says that an OLA must do certain things.

  • The rules for making changes to the OLA
  • Requests for changes to the OLA are made in a certain way
  • The rules for ending an OLA 
  • The time intervals for reviewing the OLA.

It is important to note that these rules don’t cover how SLAs are set up.

The Best Ways to Structure an Operating Level Agreement

If you are writing or making an OLA, here are some things to think about. 

  • Explain the goal of the document in a few sentences
  • List all the people and organisations that play a role in service management and meeting SLAs
  • An agreement must have a compliance goal and at least one service goal. It’s possible for an agreement to have one or more milestones with one or more actions linked to each milestone
  • There should be a lot of information about what is going on now and how the OLA will help to solve it
  • Outline how the parties must communicate with each other during the term of the OLA
  • Fully describe how the service works, including when it is open and when it is available for service
  • Make sure to include the terms and conditions with your order
  • Make sure each person who signs the document has the right to do so
  • As needed, add appendices with extra information.

OLAs and Multi-sourcing 

It’s more difficult to make OLAs in a multi-sourced environment than to make them in a single company. However, you can avoid some of the common problems with multi-sourced OLAs by understanding what is operational level agreement and following these steps:

  • Create your own OLA. This is the most important thing to do in a multi-sourced environment to make sure that the internal IT department has a culture of accountability
  • Set the bar high. Understand that each relationship is different and has its own set of problems. This will help you to deal with them better
  • In charge of the process. The OLA should show how the organisation can meet its service delivery needs without having service providers who have their own goals get in the way
  • Talk about OLAs with service providers early and often. Make sure you don’t wait until the Request for Proposal process is over before you talk about it
  • Take charge. You should always keep your clients in mind
  • Be very clear. Add specific interactions to the language of the OLA
  • Evaluate performance on a regular basis. Use OLA reporting and metrics to figure out what works best


In today’s technology-driven world, if you want to stay relevant, you need to do an excellent job of managing your IT services. It’s essential to look at crucial infrastructure performance indicators and business services as part of service level agreements, operational level agreements, and other contracts (UCs). As long as they ensure the IT productivity and costs stay low, they can do this.


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