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How do I track our actual project costs and compare them to the project budget?

We need some way to keep our project team accountable to the project sponsors and stakeholders in status reports and meetings, but we don't want to go crazy doing it. How can I track our actual project costs and compare them to the project budget in a way that makes sense?
Tracking actual project costs and using that information to help keep teams' accountable with sponsor and stakeholder objectives depends upon the level of detail developed in planning and financial systems in your company. Many industries and government programs use Earned Value methodology to do this. Earned Value systems calculate variances in schedule and cost for both budgeted and actual performance. However, this level of detail isn't appropriate to all projects or organizations. Unless you have regulatory or contractual demands that dictate measurements, we suggest you to keep thing simple to start, and let the situation drive further complexity.…

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