OLA vs SLA: Difference and Comparison

Services to customers in traditional IT environments and supported and delivered by the organization. In today’s marketplace of tech-driven, there is a requirement to deliver superior IT service management.

The SLA is created with details like how reliable the service would be, the service availability be, etc.  

Meanwhile, the internal team, like the development team, network administration team, etc, would then draw up OLA to support the SLA. But they must do this in a process that maximizes the productivity of IT.

Let’s look at SLA and OLA, with the chief focus being on differentiating them. 

Key Takeaways

  1. An Operational Level Agreement (OLA) is an internal agreement between departments or teams outlining responsibilities and service expectations.
  2. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between a service provider and a customer, defining the quality and scope of service delivery.
  3. OLAs focus on internal collaboration, while SLAs establish expectations between providers and clients.


OLA stands for Operational Level Agreement. An OLA is an agreement used to define the operational-level relationship between two parties within the same organization. SLA stands for Service Level Agreement. An SLA is an agreement used to determine the relationship between a service provider and their customer.


An OLA describes the interdependent relationship in SLA’s support. The agreement describes each internal support group’s responsibilities toward other support groups, consistent time frame, and delivery of their service.

The OLA’s objective is to present a measurable, concise, and precise description of the internal support relationships of service providers. 

SLA is a documented agreement between a customer and service provider that identifies both the expected level of service and the required service.

SLA is carefully designed and evaluated to realize maximum service value from a business and end-user perspective before subscribing to an IT service. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonOLAIn agreement in respect to services like maintenance
Stands forOperational Level AgreementService Level Agreement
Target groupShorter target groupsLarger target groups
TechnicalMore technicalLess technical
FocusIn agreement with respect to services like maintenanceOn the agreement’s service part
CommitmentWithin the organization’s internal groupsTo the customer/ client

What is OLA? 

OLA are legal documents highlighting how service providers and IT companies plan to offer internal track and service performance indicators to customers.

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It aims to define the depth and scope of duties and responsibilities by departments of companies.  

To internal customers, the OLA is required you to make critical promises. Their ability to generate is up to your ability to deliver on hardware and service.

Due to their complexity, you should negotiate, finalize and draft your OLAs thoroughly and consist of some critical terms that prevent your fiduciary interest of the company.  

Like any contract, it also contains some vital provisions that build the terms and conditions of the relationship, like limitations, rules, and responsibilities.

Regarding OLA’s general overview section, it sets the stage for identifying parties, and relationships and establishes the objective of the relationship.  

Transparency must exist between service providers and vendors. OLA’s incident management section should list ad-hock requests, how they agree to process them, and the expected standard.

It is vital to segment the process through major and everyday incidents. 

What is SLA? 

In SLA, specific service aspects like responsibilities, availability, and quality are agreed upon between the service user and the service provider.

The most usual SLA component is that the services should be offered to the customer as an aspect of the contract.  

The contract can be legally binding informal, or formal. The agreement might consist of different teams or separate organizations within one organization.

It comprises several components, from a service’s definition to the agreement termination. To ensure, SLAs are consistently met, the agreements are designed with particular demarcation lines.  

Fixed operators of line telecom have used SLAs since the late 1980s. Nowadays, SLAs have widely used in larger organizations with several different SLAs exist within the company.

This practice maintains the service’s same quality amongst the organization’s different units.  

SLAs are defined at three different levels. Firstly, customer-based SLA includes only an individual customer group.

Secondly, service-based SLA is for all customers using the service provider’s service. At last, multi-level SLA is split into different levels like corporate-level SLA, customer-level SLA, add service-level SLA. 

Also Read:  Product Based vs Service Based Companies: Difference and Comparison

Main Differences between OLA and SLA 

  1. OLA is not applied to the resolution process of the overall ticket, and it is only specified to the group of support to which the ticket is assigned. Conversely, to the overall ticket resolution process, the SLA is applied, and also with the customer, it is based on the service contract.  
  2. OLA can be written in the form of a short paragraph that highlights the OLA’s purpose. It talks about the chief goals and objectives of OLA, like within the company’s IT sector is providing quality customer service. Meanwhile, SLA mainly underscores the agreement’s brief introduction, service scope, contract duration, and concerning parties.  
  3. OLA is essentially contracted between the organization’s internal support departments that provide SLAs. On the flip side, SLA is an agreement that is between a customer and a provider.  
  4. Each internal group in OLA has specific responsibilities to the other group, and that’s why it fails to link the service providers with the customer. In contrast, unlike the OLA, SLA offers a connection with the customers to service providers.  
  5. Regarding importance, against commitments to the customer, OLA allows the organization to track progress and performance. On the contrary, SLA is vital because it permits you to hold your service provider account and the details of exactly the service type. 


  1. https://events.esd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/30-Malik-Hafiz_Draft-Paper.pdf
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Reem-Abdalla/publication/333263863_Addressing_Service_Availability_parameters_in_Service_Providers_using_Technology_as_a_Complex_System/links/5ec38728299bf1c09ac91017/Addressing-Service-Availability-parameters-in-Service-Providers-using-Technology-as-a-Complex-System.pdf

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “OLA vs SLA: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I found the article surprisingly informative. The comparison tables were the most informative portion of the article.


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