Standards can be ‘technical’ or ‘management system’. A technical standard prescribes detailed processes and procedures within an industry sector or activity. These generally apply to manufacturing, mining, production and scientific processes which will impact on the quality or performance of the final product or outcome.
Technical standards are often regulated as compulsory, often enforced by that industry’s association or regulatory body. Management System standards (of which ISO 20121 is), address the process and procedures of managing an operation, entity or activity. The other management system standards include ISO 9001 (Quality Assurance) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System). The management system standards are not always mandatory, although some industry sectors may mandate that their constituents must meet these standards in order to be endorsed or to meet minimum best practice.
Unlike ISO 14001 or 9001, ISO 20121 has been developed with a specific industry sector in mind (events industry). The former standards are cross-industry standards and are generic in that they can be applied to almost any industry.