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Application SupportData MigrationOLA / SLA Operations Level AgreementSystem DokumentationProject ManagementQuality AssuranceCompliance and StandardsDatabase AdministrationStartup PhaseAchieving Operational ReadinessStabilized Operations

Operations Level Agreements (OLA)

Difference between SLA and OLA

OLA's are agreements between different IS/IT-departments and the Service Level Manager,
the SLA is the overall agreement between IS/IT and the business department.
SLA's address the Business Level Requirements, e.g. "After loss of data the Application is up and running within 6 Hours".

For business it is not of interest, how many hours are needed by the different teams, e.g. server team to replace the disks, backup team to restore the files from tape to disk, DBA team to start and recover (roll forward) the database and application support team to start the application.

This details must be defined in the OLA's which the Service Level Manager needs to negotiate and agree with all involved teams.

Steps in establishing and SLA and related OLA's

If a Service Level Manager needs to offer to Business a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for an End-to-End IS/IT-Service, he sign this SLA only after he arranged within IS/IT for each system or component used to provide this service an Operations Level Agreement (OLA) with the providing team or department.

The Business View (SLA-View)

(1) Business (representing the users) requires from IS/IT - represented by the Service Level Manager (SLM) - one agreement about the quantity and quality of services (tasks) provided by IS/IT on a system (service) level; Those requirements from business are expressed in the Service Level Requirements (SLR).
The resulting agreement is the SLA (Service Level Agreement) (4)
(6)Service Level Reporting documents if the Service Level Requirements were met or not.

The IT-internal View (OLA-View)

As there are many different teams, reporting to different managers, required to provide the agreed services
(2a-h) the Service Level Manager breaks down the Service Level Requirements requested by Business on end-to-end system level into Operations Level Requirements (OLR) for each team and
(3a-3h) establishes will all required teams an Operations Level Agreement.
The four terms "Operations Level Agreement", "Operational Level Agreements", "Operating Level Agreements" and "Organizational Level Agreement" are used equal in relevant published literature.

About the OLA-Templates sold at

The strength and main value of our templates is the subject-specific content. They are not templates just providing a generic OLA- structure, they really contain detailed, team-specific content.

Each of our templates contains a comprehensive list of services provided / tasks done by the related team and related metrics how to measure those.
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Usage Tip: In case that the project team does not request (and pay for) certain (extended) services, the author suggests to rather check the checkbox "NO" (best with an explanation) than to delete those from the agreement. This avoids discussions about "we were not aware that this is not included" which usually start after some unpleasant things happened.
OLA's are an important pre-requisit for the service level manager to agree with business on an SLA (Service Level Agreement).