Rapid population growth and city expansion, along with scarce resources for planning and management, are widely shared characteristics of southern cities. The System for Monitoring Urban Functionalities (SMURF) has been designed and developed for the city of Thies (Senegal) as a GIS-based software for supporting participatory planning and management in low resources contexts. The software instrument consists of a geographic database and of spatial indicators, for sharing information and evaluating city development. To collect and update data, the model begins with the gathering of the data from each stakeholder, who, in return, gets a better knowledge of the land and a planning support tool. However, the implementation of these information technologies presents several challenges: create an adapted interface, elaborate a relevant set of data and indicators, manage the data, and institutionalize the instrument. On the basis of the experience gained from the adaptation of the SMURF instrument for several other West African cities, this paper describes the general conditions that should be met by cities willing to implement such tools.