Creating OLAs

March 29th, 2014 | Posted by Don Boylan in Service Level Management

Has anyone had experience of developing OLAs recently?With multiple IT support groups does there need to be an agreement between each group therefore requiring multiple OLA documents. e.g.

Agreement 1 – Apps Support & service desk
Agreement 2 – Tech support & service desk
Agreement 3 – Tech support & IT procurement

Etc, etc etc

Or is best to try and write one OLA document that covers all the interfaces between support groups

Any advice welcome or example templates that you’ve used


I have worked on OLAs within a large, multinational company and found that the document management aspect of OLAs are the largest hurdle to implementing a successful Service Level Management process.Some of the ITIL processes you can get by “on the cheap” by pulling in resources to perform the process’s activities part time. Capacity and Availability usually don’t require full time personnel. Sometimes you can get by with Problem and Change only utilizing partial full time employees (FTE).

Service Level Management isn’t one of the processes you do well without full time staffing. And for a company of any size, you are usually talking about multiple full time employees.

The organization I worked for had the Service Desk and about 80 2nd level support groups. Some of those 2nd level support groups had interactions with the other 2nd level support groups. Anywhere there is an expectation of interactions between any of the IT groups, there should be an OLA in place to guide the interaction and define the KPI measurements used to improve the IT operation.

If you look at how the OLA’s define the interaction of support groups, you will notice that it is very hard to have one master OLA that controls them all. This is because the DBA support group’s interaction with the Server team is usually very different than the Service Desk’s interaction with the Server team. Yes there can be many aspects that can be copy/pasted between them (such as response times to various levels of Priority), but many aspects, such as the expectation for level of detail describing the issue, are very different.

The number of OLAs grow exponentially as the number of groups that interact grow. A dozen interacting groups will generate 132 OLAs (144 if you want to control how the Service Desk interacts with itself via an OLA, etc). All these documents need to be reviewed and revised at least annually, and whenever there are major Changes to the infrastructure.

The paper work management alone could require a FTE. The person who is going to attend all of the meetings where the revisions are discussed could require another FTE.

But the gains from a well implemented Service Level Management process based on well defined and measurable OLAs is probably one of the greatest areas of return for investing in ITIL.

I will attach my Sample OLA to this post.

Generic OLA1

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