One thing you must negotiate about with your technical writer is the format in which the writer delivers the documentation. There are numerous options MS-Word will, for many businesses be the defacto standard as the Office Suite will be available in most businesses. However, the use of character and paragraph formatting will vary from writer to writer. This does have an impact on how much time you need to bring the document under your control for publishing.
Many writers use Adobe FrameMaker, especially if that writer supplies to a larger company. Using Adobe FrameMaker is costly at the beginning. Once the use of FrameMaker is established, it has many advantages of just another wordprocessor. For one, FrameMaker has much better control over templates and layouts.
But, the writer is not alone. How about editors, translators and printers? You may agree with your writer that the document is delivered in a specific format, but the editor or translator may not have the same preferences as to how to use specific settings of the software. So, even though you are clear about what software to use and what format still the look of the document may take a lot of time to fine tune.
If the client can step away from the specific choice of software and layout, but instead focus on the content alone then production of a document looks much simpler. The writer can concentrate on the effect of the content, the editor on correct spelling and the translator on the language differences. Finally, when it is time for printing content and layout are brought together. You can leave the layout of the document to one person, a specialist.
That scenario is not wishful thinking. With the use of XML it may be possible. With the XML based DITA standard it is possible.
Read more: How DITA Can Help Even the Smallest Businesses