An SLA or service level agreement defines the relationship between a service provider and its customers. It encompasses the responsibilities of both parties, all the services that the customer needs and receives, any money matters (and financial agreements) and performance management to which the service provider measures and reports in a regular basis. Basically, the objective of the SLA is to present a clear, accurate and measurable description of what the service provider does for the customer.
OLA or operating level agreement, on the other hand, defines the interdependent relationships among the internal support groups to sustain an SLA. This means that this happens on the service provider side. This is an agreement describing the duties and responsibilities of each internal group towards other support groups in carrying out specific tasks needed by customers. The basic objective of the OLA is then to present an understandable, concise and reasonable description of the service providers internal support relationships, working together towards total customer satisfaction.
SLA and OLA basically function mutually to provide quality service. Once all the customer needs were identified, an SLA will be written down to address all the aspects of the service that should be provided. The SLA will then be shared and communicated with the support groups working under the service provider to think of the best possible way on how services should be delivered in a timely and organized fashion. Then, an OLA will be created to guide them in meeting customer needs using available existing resources. Working together as a team makes world class customer service very much achievable.