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operational level agreement (OLA)

What is an operational level agreement? 

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 address and solve the problem of IT silos by setting forth a specific set of criteria and defining the specific set of IT services that each department is responsible for. It should be noted that the term Service Level Agreement (SLA) is used in many companies when discussing agreements between two internal groups, but according to the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework for best practices, this type of internal contract should be called an Operational Level Agreement. 

 

Six tips for crafting an OLA
1. Define all the services IT is responsible for in a Service Catalog.

2. As CIO, get involved in the process by understanding what each service entails.

3. Define the key players (the networking team, the server group, etc.) and their responsibilities.

4. Lay out each IT group's expectations for delivering each service.

5. Come up with contingency plans for unexpected events.
 
6. Test and retest OLAs, and make changes when needed. OLAs, like SLAs, shouldn't be static and should have a beginning, middle and end date.

Source: Laura DiDio

 

Though a component of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), OLAs can be -- and often are -- implemented on a standalone basis.

This was last updated in March 2011
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