Often, an organisation will sell a system that is packaged with a number of products and services from partner suppliers: a car will include a radio, a telephony system will include handsets, and so on.
In the same way that the system needs to integrate all the various components from different suppliers, creating the user documentation can create a challenge: How do you take existing content from partners and incorporate it in your documentation set?
Using DITA is one way to make this process less of a headache. DITA is an XML schema for writing that builds content reuse into the authoring process. The content is written as modular topics (as opposed to long “book-oriented” files), which means chunks of text can be easily reused for different purposes.
The format aspects of the content (the font size, colour etc) are stored away from the topics themselves, so you can take content from various sources and easily set a uniform “look and feel”.
DITA also allows for conditional text, so product names can changed easily, depending on circumstances.
It may also mean you can re-use chunks translated into different languages, saving you the time and money needed to translate that content yourself.
So if you a wrestling with user content originating from various suppliers, it may be worth taking a serious look at DITA.