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ITIL Service Level Agreements or SLAs are recognized as an essential requirement to delivering consistent IT services to the customer community, irrespective if they are internal or external customers of the organization. What is often neglected when considering the establishment of the SLA is the corresponding necessity for the Operating Level Agreements or OLAs. ITIL pays little attention or guidance to the production of OLAs, caring to focus more on the production of the SLA.
ITIL Service Level Management or SLM is a critical component of every IT organisation delivering services, but underpinning the success of the SLA it is imperative that the IT organization or department works collectively to deliver and support the IT services to the customer base as defined within the ITIL Service Catalogue. The OLA ensures that each department's role and responsibilities and interactions with each of the other teams, groups and suppliers within the IT department are formalized, documented and agreed to.
The OLA and SLA work 'hand in glove' and ensure a consistent understanding throughout the IT organization, furthermore the new-comer to the department is able to 'come up to speed' quicker and therefore be more effective in the manor in which the team, group and department operate - leaving little to chance. As a 'living document' it should be updated on a regular basis to ensure it remains effective and where possible it should be publish on the organizations intranet.
Probably one of the best examples as to where the OLA is most effective is when it explains the response time of the IT support teams to the various 'severities' assigned to Incidents. The response time stated in the OLA should be less than that stipulated in the SLA and as agreed with the customer, to ensure that IS wherever possible are able to meet its service levels.
In summary the Service Level Agreement is customer facing and supports the services offered by the IT department. The Operating Level Agreement permits the various teams, groups and suppliers to work cohesively together to deliver the IT services in support of the SLA.
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