Operational Level Agreement

Clients Rate Lawyers on our Platform 4.9/5 Stars
based on 2,665 reviews

Jump to Section

Need help with a legal contract?

Post Project Now

Post Your Project (It's Free)

Get Bids to Compare

 Hire Your Lawyer

Operational level agreements (OLAs) are essential to service level management. The relationship involves working collaboratively with others to set realistic expectations about services and associated logistics. An OLA can help you manage the relationships with those you serve internally.

This article describes what IT providers need to know:

What is an Operational Level Agreement?

Operational level agreements (OLAs) are legal documents that outline how information technology (IT) companies and service providers plan to provide a service and track performance indicators to an internal customer. An OLA aims to define the scope and depth of responsibilities and duties by company departments.

These contracts are different from service level agreements (SLAs) , which address external customer needs. However, SLA delivery depends upon OLA performance, which means that your department or team should negotiate them carefully.

Examples of Operational Level Agreements

OLAs require you to make critical promises to internal customers. Their ability to generate revenue depends upon your ability to deliver on service and hardware. For instance, every OLA must guarantee that the customer experiences no more than a certain amount of downtime.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of OLAs between an IT vendor and an internet service provider (ISP) to make this point more clear:

  • An IT vendor supports a database for Company A, an ISP
  • Company A provides Internet SLAs to external customers
  • Company A signs an OLA with the IT database vendor
  • The IT vendor OLA states that they must provide 23 hours of daily uptime
  • Company A can claim financial damages for excessive downtime
  • Conversely, IT vendors meeting standards will retain customers

As you can see, the SLA dramatically depends upon the promises and limitations outlined in the OLA. Due to their complexity, you should draft, negotiate, and finalize your OLAs thoroughly and include some critical terms that protect your company’s fiduciary interests.

Common Terms in OLAs

Like any contract, an OLA contains some necessary provisions that establish the terms and conditions of the relationship, such as roles, responsibilities, and limitations. While the OLA includes many of the same components found in a standard contract, some clauses make them unique.

Common terms in OLAs include the following:

  • General Overview : This section of an OLA sets the stage for the relationship, identifies parties, and establishes the relationship’s objectives. You should include references to accountability, roles, and responsibilities. The general overview also delineates a contract’s start and end date.
  • Service Scope : This section offers the technical description of the service provided. It should also account for updates and upgrades, and tasks that go beyond the scope of the OLA.
  • Service Dependencies : In this provision, list the supporting services dependent upon the vendor’s deliverables. This section may also weigh heavy on the technical aspects of this agreement.
  • Responsible Parties : If an issue arises, the internal customer needs to know how to contact the responsible parties. In this section, vendors should include the names, hours, telephone numbers, and emails of individuals they can reach.
  • Roles and responsibilities : This section addresses how all involved parties play a role in service delivery. Describe training measures, meeting times, and change notification measures. You should also include the activities in which the vendor must participate.
  • Incident Management : Transparency must exist between vendors and service providers. This section of your OLA should list standard expected and ad-hock requests and how they agree to process them. It is vital to segment the process by normal and major incidents.
  • Problem Management : If an incident arises, the internal customer also needs reasonable reassurance that you can handle them. A problem management section allows the IT vendor to list ‘what-if” scenarios and communicate the contingencies and actions to resolve discovered issues.
  • Service Exceptions : This provision is vital since it also limits the scope and depth of your relationship in terms of incident and problem management. It is unfair that a vendor address problems outside of its control. Outline the exceptions in this section.
  • Metrics and Goals : Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a significant component of the OLA relationship. The company should request that the vendor monitors specific metrics and make them available to key team members.

Your OLA may need to address issues that are specialized for your industry. Technology lawyers can review your situation and system and produce a thorough, valid, and enforceable document.

This article also contains information about common terms in OLAs.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Max M.

102 projects on CC
View Profile

Michael M.

2 projects on CC
View Profile

Jeremiah C.

37 projects on CC
View Profile

Tabetha H.

10 projects on CC
View Profile

Types of Operational Level Agreements

Operational level agreements often work in tandem with a few other contracts. This strategy gives SLA provider reassurance to external customers, making reviewing and negotiating the OLA beforehand even more critical. Both arrangements also protect every party’s rights during the relationship.

There are three types of contracts generally involved in operational level agreements:

  • Type 1. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) : SLAs are contracts between a service provider and an external customer. They specify the scope and quality of the services covered. An SLA establishes the timelines by which tickets must be accepted and resolved before escalation.
  • Type 2. Operation Level Agreements (OLAs) : OLAs are agreements between an internal service provider and an internal customer. They specify the scope and quality of the services covered by the contract, including ticket response time and server availability.
  • Type 3. Underpinning Contracts (UCs) : UCs are contracts between an external provider and an internal customer. They define the scope and range of the services covered. A UC tracks performance similar to an OLA.

You should consider your relationship with each stakeholder in the process. You may need a combination of two agreements, whereas some companies may need to create more. The contract you put in place depends upon your company’s specific situation and dynamics.

ContractsCounsel Operational Level Agreement Image

Image via Pexels by Manuel Geissinger

Difference Between OLAs and SLAs

It is common for service providers to negotiate SLAs with clients before discussing and negotiating OLAs with internal teams. However, this approach is not necessarily the most practical. An OLA helps teams identify any cost differentials, constraints, and other dynamics while SLAs make promises to customers directly.

Here are four other differences between OLAs and SLAs:

  • Difference 1 . SLAs exist between a service provider and an external customer. OLAs exist between the internal support departments of an organization that agreed to the SLA.
  • Difference 2 . SLAs concentrate on the service aspect of the agreement, such as availability and performance. In contrast, OLAs represent commitments to maintain the service.
  • Difference 3 . SLAs apply to the overall resolution of tickets, whereas OLAs are specific to the support teams to which tickets are assigned.
  • Difference 4 . OLAs involve more technical terms, measurements, and language than SLAs.

From the list outlined above, you can see that SLAs and OLAs are distinctly different documents that should work in accordance to produce the best result. Mistakes in the OLA drafting and negotiation process can result in unintended legal and financial consequences. As such, you should always get legal help from an experienced lawyer when working with OLAs.

For more information about how SLAs work, check out this blog article .

Get Help with OLAs

The terms of a contract must generally meet your business requirements to serve business needs. Technology lawyers can review the proposed agreement with you before negotiating it while simultaneously identifying potential issues. During the contract drafting process, your lawyer ensures that you receive a fair OLA while understanding its legal implications.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Operational Level Agreement Lawyers

View Daliah
Member Since:
September 1, 2021

Daliah S.

Principal Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Chicago, IL
18 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
University of Illinois College of Law

Daliah Saper operates a cutting-edge internet and social media law practice that regularly leads local and national media outlets to solicit her commentary on emerging internet law issues involving cyberbullying, sexting, catfishing, revenge porn, anonymous online defamation, domain name and user-name squatting, privacy, and the latest business decisions made by social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. As a litigator Daliah represents companies bringing or defending business and intellectual property disputes. (She has argued cases in a number of jurisdictions including taking a case all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.) As a transactional lawyer she helps clients choose the right business entity, drafts contracts and licensing agreements, advises on sweepstakes and contest rules, and ensures website terms of use and privacy policies are compliant, and provides comprehensive trademark and copyright counseling. Since founding Saper Law Offices in 2005, Daliah has been named a 40 Under 40 by Law Bulletin Publishing Co., a top Media & Advertising attorney by Super Lawyers Magazine 14 years in a row, and has been repeatedly recognized as a leading media and entertainment lawyer by Chambers and Partners. For the past eleven years, she also has taught entertainment and social media law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

View Alex
Member Since:
August 26, 2021

Alex M.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Los Angeles, California
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
Southwestern Law School

Mr. Mehdipour attended the University of California San Diego where he received his degree in political science. After graduating from UCSD, Mr. Mehdipour attended Southwestern University School of Law where he received his JD. Upon passing the bar, Mr. Mehdipour gained invaluable experience both in a law firm and business setting. Mr. Mehdipour uses his prior business and legal experiences to negotiate the most advantageous results for his clients.

View Alen
Member Since:
August 26, 2021

Alen A.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Los Angeles, CA
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
University of West Los Angeles

Alen Aydinian is a versatile attorney with over a decade of experience working with business owners and real estate professionals. Client engagement is central to a successful attorney/client relationship. Alen personally manages all client relationships so that his clients can see how their interests are being served at every stage of the process.

View Nicholas
Member Since:
August 28, 2021

Nicholas A.

Founder, Victrix Legal LLC
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Buffalo, NY
1 Yr Experience
Licensed in NY
Liberty University School of Law

I help small business owners build and protect their dreams. I always thought that I would just be a litigator. Then I joined an intellectual property clinic in law school. We were helping nonprofits and small businesses reach their goals. I fell in love with the work and decided to open my own firm so I could keep helping them. When I decided to start Victrix Legal, I decided that it would be a modern law firm designed to serve professionals. It would be different from every other law firm. In my experience, my law firms are designed to promote inefficiency and reactionary lawyering. Because in most firms, you make more money when you spend more time on a project. And you lose money if your client doesn't get sued. In my opinion, that's a built-in conflict of interest. My firm is different. I use flat fees for most basic projects to keep costs predictable for you and incentivize efficiency. I offer long-term advisory plans and legal audits to prevent issues from happening. I want my clients to see me as their business partner, not just the guy they call when they are in trouble. If any of that interests you, please reach out to me. I offer free consultations. Let's set aside some time and talk about what your legal needs are.

View Gerald
Member Since:
August 28, 2021

Gerald W.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Round Rock, Texas
8 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL, TX
Valparaiso University School of Law

My clients know me as more than just an attorney. First and foremost, my background is much broader than that. Prior to attending the Valparaiso University School of Law, I earned a Master of Business Administration and ran a small business as a certified public accountant. Thanks to this experience, I possess unique insight which in turn allows me to better assist my clients with a wide range of business and tax matters today. In total, I have over 20 years of experience in financial management, tax law, and business consulting, and I’m proud to say that I’m utilizing the knowledge I’ve gained to assist the community of Round Rock in a variety of ways. In my current practice, I provide counsel to small to medium-sized businesses, nonprofit organizations, and everyday individuals. Though my primary areas of practice are estate planning, elder law, business consulting, and tax planning, I pride myself on assisting my clients in a comprehensive manner. Whenever I take on a new client, I make an effort to get to know them on a personal level. This, of course, begins with listening. It is important that I fully understand their vision so I can help them successfully translate it into a concrete plan of action that meets their goals and expectations. I appreciate the individual attributes of each client and know firsthand that thoughtful, creative, and customized planning can maximize both financial security and personal happiness. During my time as a certified public accountant, I cultivated an invaluable skill set. After all, while my legal education has given me a deep understanding of tax law, I would not be the tax attorney I am today without my background in accounting. Due to my far-reaching experience, I am competent in unraveling even the most complex tax mysteries and disputes. My CPA training benefits my estate planning practice, too. In the process of drafting comprehensive wills and trusts, I carefully account for every asset and plan for any tax burdens that may arise, often facilitating a much smoother inheritance for the heirs of my clients. Prior to becoming certified as a CPA, I made sure to establish a solid foundation in business both in and out of the classroom, and the acumen I’ve attained has served me well. Not only am I better able to run my own practice than I otherwise would be; I am able to help other small business owners fulfill their dreams, as well.

View Garrett
Member Since:
August 29, 2021

Garrett M.

Associate
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Dexter, MO
6 Yrs Experience
Licensed in TX
University of Texas

Hello! I am a young attorney with four years' experience in real estate transactions, fund formation, and general corporate transactional work. I graduated in 2016 from the University of Texas - Austin and I am barred in Texas.

View Billy Joe
Member Since:
October 25, 2021

Billy Joe M.

Partner Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Chicago, IL
13 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006 with a degree in Political Science, Finance, and Economics. I stayed around Champaign for law school and graduated in 2009. I then worked at a big law firm in downtown Chicago. It was boring, so I quit in early 2011. I thought that I could not be happy practicing law - I was wrong. After I quit the traditional law firm life, I began representing my own clients. I realize now that I love helping normal people, small business owners, and non-profits address a variety of legal issues. I hope to hear from you.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call