Given the need to run on varied and disparate environments, a build procedure is imperative in ensuring consistent project compilation and in assisting folks in contributing. There are a few tools that go beyond a Makefile to aid in this process. Among these are Autotools, CMake, and Scons
Key things to keep in mind are the need to support deployment and development in Windows, Linux and OS X. This likely precludes Autotools without significant effort to work in Windows environments.