Innovative collaboration for a new version of Sigmah
Sigmah, the open source software for shared management of international aid projects, involves a variety of partnerships and collaborations. Member NGOs, volunteers and companies providing skills-based sponsorship (Ideia, Google) will be working together with volunteer students involved in the innovative Google Summer of Code programme to develop a new version of the software during the summer of 2013.
Sigmah is open source software for shared management of international aid projects run by an open group of 11 NGOs  and facilitated by Groupe URD. An initial version of the software was launched in June 2011 in response to a needs analysis carried out between 2008 and 2009 at the request of a number of French NGOs suffering from “infoxication”. It has continued to evolve since and has mainly been developed by the technical partner Ideia. 8 NGOs in the Steering Cooperative are in the process of adopting the software and 6 of these have begun using it concretely.
For 2013, the Sigmah reference points from the member NGOs have defined their priorities for the development of version 1.3, which is due to come out in the Autumn. The most complex needs were then interpreted to allow a software ergonomist from Google France working on the project through a partnership with the French Red Cross to design intuitive screens.
The development of the software will be undertaken by an intern at Ideia via skills-based sponsorship and by student developers through the Google Summer of Code programme (students are paid by Google to work on open source software projects during the summer). Sigmah has been selected for this programme for the second year in a row and is one of 177 projects which were selected alongside major projects like Mozilla, Linux and Wikimedia and three other projects related to international aid: Benetech, OpenMRS and Sahana.
Like all open source projects, the work of the developers is done entirely by means of online collaboration tools. 3 students from India, Sri Lanka and Austria will contribute to the project this summer in addition to the Ideia intern based in France. With support from an Ideia developer, volunteers who are already familiar with the project and the project facilitator from Groupe URD, they will spend the summer working on the integration of accountancy solutions like Saga into the software, revising the system for managing project adjustments, increasing the flexibility of the software and establishing a private support system on the community site www.sigmah.org.
This kind of collaboration, which brings together NGOs from the international aid sector, IT companies, volunteers and students, illustrates the open and participatory spirit of the project. The varied profiles of the organizations and individuals taking part in this process show just how open the door is to all kinds of collaboration. So, whether you are in the international aid sector, a donor, or a software developer, etc. come and join us to take part in the project!
 The 11 NGOs which are members of the Steering Cooperative running the project are: Acting for Life, Action contre la Faim, Comité de Secours Internationaux, French Red Cross, ETC Terra, Groupe URD, Handicap International France, Médecins du Monde, Première Urgence – Aide Médicale Internationale, Solidarités International and Triangle Génération Humanitaire (more information at http://www.sigmah.org/fr/node/38)