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Operational Level Agreements: here’s what you need to know

An Operational Level Agreement (OLA) is a type of agreement that defines the responsibilities, relationships, and expectations between different internal teams or departments within an organization. OLAs are a commonly used document in the realm of IT Service Management (ITSM) and are particularly associated with Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) practices.

  1. Key points of an OLA
  2. What is the purpose of an OLA document?

1. Key points of an Operational Level Agreement

  1. Internal Focus:
    • OLAs typically address the relationships and service level expectations between internal groups or departments within an organization. They are distinct from Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which are agreements between a service provider and its customers.
  2. Service Delivery:
    • OLAs outline the agreed-upon levels of service and support required to deliver a particular service. This can include performance metrics, response times, and responsibilities of each internal team involved in the service delivery process.
  3. Collaboration and Coordination:
    • OLAs are crucial for fostering collaboration and coordination between different operational teams. They help ensure that each team understands its role, responsibilities, and dependencies in the overall service delivery process.
  4. Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
    • OLAs often include specific metrics and KPIs that the involved teams are expected to meet. These metrics may relate to response times, resolution times, and other relevant performance indicators.
  5. Roles and Responsibilities:
    • OLAs clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team or department involved in the service delivery. This helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures accountability.
  6. Continuous Improvement:
    • OLAs may include provisions for continuous improvement, encouraging teams to review and enhance their processes over time. This contributes to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.
  7. Dependencies and Relationships:
    • OLAs address dependencies and relationships between different teams. This is particularly important in situations where the output of one team is crucial for the success of another.
  8. Review and Revision:
    • OLAs should be periodically reviewed and, if necessary, revised to ensure they remain aligned with the evolving needs of the organization and its services.

2. The purpose of an Operational Level Agreement

  1. Define Internal Responsibilities:
    • OLAs help define and document the specific responsibilities of different operational teams or departments within an organization. This clarity is crucial for ensuring that each team understands its role in the overall service delivery process.
  2. Establish Service Levels:
    • OLAs outline the agreed-upon service levels, including performance metrics and key indicators, that each internal team is expected to meet. This helps set expectations for the quality and efficiency of service delivery.
  3. Enhance Collaboration:
    • By clearly defining roles and responsibilities, OLAs promote collaboration and coordination between various operational teams. This is especially important in complex service delivery processes where multiple teams contribute to the end-to-end service.
  4. Improve Accountability:
    • OLAs contribute to improved accountability by clearly assigning responsibilities to specific teams. Team members understand what is expected of them, and this clarity reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings and finger-pointing in case of issues.
  5. Mitigate Risks and Dependencies:
    • OLAs identify and address dependencies between different operational teams. Understanding these dependencies helps mitigate risks associated with service delivery, ensuring that teams work together effectively to achieve common goals.
  6. Support Service Level Agreements (SLAs):
    • OLAs are often aligned with SLAs, which are agreements between service providers and their customers. OLAs contribute to meeting the commitments outlined in SLAs by ensuring that internal teams are aligned and capable of delivering the required levels of service.
  7. Facilitate Continuous Improvement:
    • OLAs may include provisions for continuous improvement, encouraging teams to review and optimize their processes over time. This contributes to increased efficiency, effectiveness, and adaptability to changing business needs.
  8. Streamline Incident and Problem Resolution:
    • In the event of incidents or problems, OLAs provide a framework for a coordinated response. Teams can refer to the agreement to understand their roles in resolving issues quickly and minimizing the impact on services.
  9. Improve Communication:
    • OLAs foster improved communication between different operational teams. By having a documented agreement, teams can reference it to ensure that communication is clear and effective, reducing the likelihood of miscommunication.
  10. Align IT with Business Objectives:
    • OLAs help align IT services with broader business objectives. By ensuring that internal teams are working collaboratively and efficiently, OLAs contribute to the overall success of the organization.

In summary, Operational Level Agreements play a crucial role in internal service management by defining responsibilities, setting service levels, improving collaboration, and supporting the overall effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery within an organization.

More resources for the OLA Business document:


A Operational Level Agreement template and example. Edit the template to personalise it for your requirements. The template can be downloaded as a PDF, InDesign or Word file.

Service Level Agreement (SLA) document template >

Checklist: What to include in a OLA

Read this checklist to make sure your create a comprehensive and well-structured document that promotes clarity, collaboration, and effective service delivery among different operational teams.

More on what to include in your OLA document >