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Operational Level Agreement

Definition of Operational Level Agreement

An Operational Level Agreement (OLA) is a documented agreement between internal parties within an organization that defines the responsibilities, processes, and expectations regarding the delivery and support of services. OLAs are crucial components of IT Service Management (ITSM) frameworks like ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), providing a framework for ensuring smooth operations and efficient service delivery.

Origin of Operational Level Agreement

The concept of Operational Level Agreements originated from the need for organizations to streamline their internal processes and ensure effective collaboration between different departments or teams. As businesses grew in complexity, especially in the realm of IT services, there arose a necessity to establish clear guidelines and responsibilities to enhance operational efficiency and service quality. OLAs became a fundamental tool within ITSM frameworks to address this need, offering a structured approach to manage inter-departmental relationships and service delivery.

Practical Application of Operational Level Agreement

In a practical scenario, let's consider a software development company where various teams such as development, testing, and operations need to work together seamlessly to deliver high-quality software products. An OLA in this context would outline the specific roles and responsibilities of each team regarding tasks like code deployment, testing procedures, and incident management. By clearly defining these processes and expectations, an OLA helps to minimize misunderstandings, reduce bottlenecks, and ensure timely delivery of software releases.

Benefits of Operational Level Agreement

Improved Accountability: OLAs assign specific responsibilities to each party involved, fostering accountability and ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently.

Enhanced Communication: By documenting expectations and processes, OLAs facilitate clearer communication between different departments or teams, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings or conflicts.

Efficient Service Delivery: With defined workflows and responsibilities, OLAs help streamline operations, leading to faster response times, reduced downtime, and ultimately, better service delivery.

Risk Mitigation: OLAs often include provisions for handling contingencies and resolving issues promptly, thereby minimizing the impact of potential disruptions on business operations.


Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are agreements between a service provider and its customers, outlining the level of service expected and the consequences for failing to meet those expectations. On the other hand, Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) are internal agreements between different teams or departments within an organization, defining the responsibilities and processes involved in delivering those services.

OLAs should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that they remain relevant and aligned with changing business needs and objectives. Typically, organizations conduct OLA reviews annually or whenever there are significant changes in processes, personnel, or technology that may impact service delivery.

While OLAs are commonly associated with IT Service Management, the principles behind them can be applied to various business functions beyond IT. Any situation where multiple teams or departments need to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to deliver services or achieve common goals can benefit from implementing operational level agreements.


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