Operational Level Agreement (OLA)

An operational level agreement (OLA) is a document that explicitly states the roles, responsibilities, actions, processes, and policies involved so that a particular SLA can be fulfilled by the service provider. Simply put, an OLA tells the service provider’s internal teams what to do, how to do it, and when – plus, what should be done in the cases of irregularity or emergency.[1]

An Operational Level Agreement (OLA) is a contract that defines how various IT groups within a company plan to deliver a service or set of services. OLAs are designed to ensure that IT service providers are able to provide the level of service required and expected by their customers (whether those customers are internal, as in other departments within the same company, or external).

The OLA is typically established between the service provider and the service delivery team within an organization, and is often linked to an underlying Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the actual end user or business customer.

OLAs are often linked with Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which are formal agreements with external customers defining the service expectations, metrics, responsibilities, and penalties for not meeting the agreed-upon levels. While SLAs focus on the outcome of services as experienced by the customer, OLAs focus on the internal processes and support services necessary to fulfill those SLA commitments.

An OLA specifies:

  • Scope of Services: Clearly defines the services being provided by each internal group.
  • Performance Metrics: Specifies measurable performance criteria each group must meet, aligning with SLA requirements.
  • Responsibilities: Details the responsibilities of each internal group involved in the service delivery process.
  • Process Descriptions: Outlines the processes and procedures for fulfilling the service requirements, including escalation procedures.
  • Reporting and Monitoring: Establishes how services will be monitored and reported, and how performance data will be communicated.
  • Review and Revision: Sets terms for how and when the OLA will be reviewed and updated to adapt to changing needs and conditions.

Benefits of an OLA include:

  1. Clear communication: Everyone knows what is expected of them and how their performance will be measured.
  2. Improved service: The OLA provides a standard to strive towards, encouraging continuous improvement.
  3. Reduced misunderstandings: By outlining everyone's roles and responsibilities, the OLA reduces the chances of misunderstandings or conflicts.

However, it's important to keep in mind that OLAs require careful management and regular review to ensure that they continue to reflect the current needs and capacities of the organization. If not properly maintained, they can become out-of-date or fail to accurately represent the actual service delivery process.

See Also

An Operational Level Agreement (OLA) is an internal agreement among an organization's internal groups or teams that outlines the services each team needs to provide to another within the organization to support the delivery of services to customers. OLAs are designed to address and specify the interdependencies of service delivery, document the responsibilities of each internal support group, and set clear expectations for the standard of service in terms of quality, availability, and responsibilities. These agreements are crucial for seamless IT service management (ITSM) and form the backbone of effective service delivery to end users or customers.

  • Service Level Agreement (SLA): Discussing the external agreements between service providers and their customers, which OLAs support internally.
  • IT Service Management (ITSM): Covering the entire discipline that operational level agreements support, focusing on delivering and supporting IT services.
  • Service Catalog: Explaining a structured document or database containing information about all live IT services, including those available for deployment.
  • IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL): Discussing the framework of best practices for delivering high-quality IT services, which includes the concept of OLAs.
  • Change Management: Covering the methods and manners in which changes to the IT service process are managed and implemented.
  • Incident Management: Discussing the process for quickly restoring normal service operation while minimizing negative impact on business operations, which OLAs support.
  • Problem Management: Explaining the process aimed at identifying and managing the root causes of incidents over the long term, often supported by OLAs.
  • Configuration Management Database (CMDB): Covering the database used to store information about hardware and software assets and their relationships, which is vital for managing OLAs.
  • Capacity Management: Discussing the process of ensuring that IT resources are of the right size to meet current and future business needs in a cost-effective manner, supported by OLAs.
  • Continuous Service Improvement (CSI): Explaining the method for assessing and enhancing individual elements of ITSM, including OLAs, to improve service delivery over time.


  1. Definition - What is a Operational Level Agreement (OLA)? Process.St