In running projects, international aid organisations have to manage large quantities of computerised data that they continually share internally or with their partners, and often in the heat of a crisis response. A lot of time and data is lost during these exchanges. The idea of “infoxication” is used here because we are “intoxicated” by the amount of information and documents that circulate. Without speaking of the different drafts and versions of a document that get mixed up, the different tools for monitoring indicators that are used from one project to another, etc.
They decided to collectively design an open source information management software, adapted to international aid projects. Having assessed their problems and needs, they created a “Steering Cooperative” in order to develop the software.
- 11 NGOs: Acting For Life, Action Against Hunger, CARE Nederland, Comité de Secours Internationaux, Équilibres & Populations, Etc Terra, Fondation Follereau Luxembourg, Doctors of the World, Première Urgence-Aide Médicale Internationale, Solidarités International and Triangle Génération Humanitaire.
- Groupe URD, which facilitates the Cooperative. It provides expertise in the area of Quality (having developed the Quality COMPAS method), and in the development of tools (the Dynamic COMPAS software). It also uses Sigmah itself.
The members of the Steering Cooperative meet regularly to decide on the main orientations of the project, to validate and plan the development priorities for the software, to help members in their adoption of the system, and to support fund-raising.
Would you like to join the Steering Cooperative?
Sigmah’s economic model is based on 5 pillars:
Since 2008, a number of French and international donors have supported the project: the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, the French Development Agency, the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (DG ECHO), the Catalan Agency for Cooperation and Development, the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, Rhône-Alpes Regional Council, Ile-de-France Regional Council, and The Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind.
Each user organisation subscribes to certain services and specific support depending on their needs.
This is one of the special characteristics of Sigmah. Certain users sometimes need to rapidly develop a feature that does not yet exist, and they finance it individually. As the software is open source, everyone can subsequently benefit from this new feature, which is less expensive to maintain collectively.
Volunteers (translators, developers, etc.) also provide their skills to develop the tool. Without providing direct funding, the Google Summer Of Code also contributes at its level to the development of the software. In 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016, it paid for developers to work on the software during the summer, correcting bugs and making improvements.
Some of the member organisations of the Steering Cooperative who do not yet use the software support the project through voluntary financial contributions. Any individual can also make voluntary financial contributions to the project.
Since 2008, several French and international institutional donors have contributed to the development of the software:
- 2008-2010: the initial needs assessment was made possible thanks to the support of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the French Development Agency.
- 2010-2011: DG ECHO, the Catalan Agency for Cooperation and Development, Ile-de-France Regional Council, Rhône-Alpes Regional Council and the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind provided the funding needed to launch the project operationally.
- 2011-2012: Rhône-Alpes Regional Council financed the needs assessment for Phase 2 of the project and the development of version 1.2 released in 2013.
- 2013-2016: the French Development Agency, Rhône-Alpes Regional Council and the Humanitarian Innovation Fund contributed to the development of the 2nd version of the software.
IDEIA was the technical partner involved in creating the 1st version of the software, from 2010 to 2014.
At the end of 2014, it was replaced by Netapsys, who took over the IT duties, and developed version 2 of Sigmah. At the end of 2015, two new companies joined the network of IT service providers: Code Lutin, and Atol Conseils & Développements.
In addition to these companies, a large number of software developers have contributed individually on a voluntary basis.
A computer ergonomics company (Adergo), software graphics specialists (société Home-made & Philippe Rouanet) and a software development company (société Rizom) have also actively taken part in the design of the software, the graphic charter and the website.
The Google Summer Of Code has also contributed to the development of Sigmah. In 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016, it funded the work of computer engineers who corrected bugs and made improvements to the software over summer.
A partnership has been established with Coordination SUD (French NGO coordination platform) in connection with training and communication. As such, the training courses in Paris are co-organised with Coordination SUD, and are held in their premises.