Performance limiting factors for complex projects


within the Royal Canadian Air Force



By Sébastien Montreuil and Prof Christophe Bredillet, PhD

Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

Québec, Canada


This article proposes possible solutions for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to implement best practices, particularly in terms of the skills to be identified and developed for project managers.  It has been clearly established that project performance and success are closely linked to the skills of project managers.  The more skills are adapted to the characteristics and complexities of major RCAF projects, the greater the chances of success.

Key words:      Complex project, performance, Royal Canadian Air Force, limiting factors, competence


This article presents a research analysis of the factors limiting performance in the completion of complex projects within the RCAF. A literature review was carried out to determine which limiting factors affect project performance and how they can be remedied. Although several guides and tools are available within the Canadian government, the question arises as to whether these are adapted to RCAF projects based on their specific characteristics. A conceptual framework will be developed around the main limiting factor to be able to develop propositions and contributions. This will enable the RCAF to implement best practices regarding the performance of complex projects in a context of innovation. This will also include a methodical and more accurate assessment of the level and order of RCAF’s projects’ complexity.

“Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they

rarely stick to their plan.” –  Winston Churchill.

There’s a plan in everything, kid, and I love it when a plan

comes together”. (Hannibal Smith, The A-Team, 1983)


Part 1 – RCAF projects’ context

  • Complex project – a traditional or extraordinary definition

All too often, complex projects are completed with gaps between the requirements identified in the definition and closure phases. It is, therefore, vital to identify the factors contributing to these discrepancies, from the launch of the project to its completion. Several questions are asked about the complexity of these projects, their limitations, studies, and comparisons with similar projects. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have the responsibility and accountability to determine and orchestrate their various projects with a view to being operationally ready for different interventions around the world and for domestic operations in Canada. Military projects are innovative and highly complex, especially in a military-civilian model. As a result, the risks and uncertainties can be greater. “…the need to integrate multiple technologies into increasingly complex products and services, positivist and rationalist approaches to project management can lead to even more suboptimal decisions and ongoing project failures” (Brady et al., 2012, page 730).

Baccarini refers to dictionary definitions of what constitutes a complex project, either because of the difficulties caused by the interrelationship or interdependence of the different parts of a project.  The project is then said to be difficult to supervise and complicated to manage (Baccarini, 1996). To stop at the definition of a complex project would be too simplistic in our case.  The RCAF has certain specific characteristics, listed below, which mean that its major projects are not comparable in every respect with so-called traditional major projects. For example, it is assumed that the RCAF’s projects are mainly out of the ordinary, i.e., extraordinary.


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Montreuil, S. and Bredillet, C. (2024). Performance limiting factors for complex projects within the Royal Canadian Air Force; PM World Journal, Vol. XIII, Issue V, May. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/pmwj141-May2024-Montreuil-Bredillet-performance-limiting-factors-for-complex-projects.pdf

About the Authors

Sébastien Montreuil CD, Ing, MBA, M Ing, M.G.P.

Université du Québec en Outaouais


Sébastien Montreuil is currently a public servant with the Department of National Defence (Canada) at Ottawa as Deputy Weapon System Manager on the CH146 Griffon.  He is also pursuing studies at the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) in the Doctorate program in administration, speciality project management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (B Eng), a Master’s degree in Administration (MBA), a Master’s degree in Engineering Management (M Ing), a Master’s degree in Project Management (M.G.P), and he is a registered engineer.

He served over 27 years in the Canadian Armed Forces as an Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Officer (1994-2008) and the Royal Canadian Air Force as an Aerospace Engineering Officer (2008-2021).  His main responsibilities were to supervise maintenance technician teams to ensure the highest serviceability rate of equipment and manage major projects. During his military career, he was deployed to conflict zones such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan as an operational equipment officer were he introduced several new military equipment. These deployments enabled him to develop an interest in travel and project management.

To further develop his skills, he obtained the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification and completed a short course in the Technical Management program at the University of California (UCLA).

Sébastien Montreuil can be contacted at mons29@uqo.ca .

For information about Université du Québec en Outaouais, visit UQO.ca.


Prof Christophe Bredillet, PhD., FAPM

Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Québec, Canada


Professor Christophe N. Bredillet, PhD, FAPM, is professor of organizational project management at the Management Department, School of Business Administration, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) since 2015. He was Director of the DBA program and is Director of the joint committee for the masters’ in project management programs network, including five universities under the umbrella of Université du Québec. He leads seminars and (co)supervise number of doctoral candidates in the two main doctoral programs in project management in Québec at University of Québec in Outaouais and University of Québec at Chicoutimi.

From 2012 to 2015, he was the Director of the QUT Project Management Academy. Before joining QUT, he was Senior Consultant World Bank and, from 1992 to 2010, he was the Dean of Postgraduate Programs and Professor of Strategic Management and P3M at ESC Lille where he founded and developed the very successful masters, MBA and PhD programs in Strategy and Project, Program & Portfolio Management (P3M), leading these programs to be the first, and the fourth worldwide, to accredited outside North America by The Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC) in 2005. He also created at ESC Lille the first « International Project & Programme Management Week (IPPMW) » in 2001. This friendly research and thought-leadership event was accredited as part of the « European Doctoral Education Network (EDEN) » in 2008 by the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM). The IPPMW welcomed number of Young Crews over the years. To date, he has been principal supervisor of 36 doctoral students.

Professor Bredillet’s main interests and research activities are in the field of Philosophy of Science and Practice in P3M, including dynamic of evolution of the field, bodies of knowledge, standards, and their link with capability development, capacity building, governance and performance. These research interests are reflected in five interconnected dimensions of his work: 1) Understanding the nature of the P3M field, schools of thoughts and its dynamic of evolution; 2) Learning and acting, capacity building and organizing in complex and uncertain P3M situations; 3) Relation(s) project management deployment, cultural factors and socio-economic development; 4) Work motivation in P3M and temporary organizations settings; 5) Philosophy of Science, Practice and Ethics in P3M. He has published more than one hundred articles in scholarly journals, conference proceedings and research/advanced practice books.

Besides these activities, Professor Bredillet has been continuously involved with PM professional bodies, contributing to standards development, certifications & award assessment, research activities, conferences, and the early development stage of IPMA Young Crews. He was Editor-in-Chief of Project Management Journal® between 2004 and 2012, leading the journal to be covered by the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) and Web of Science. In 2012, he received the prestigious Manfred Saynish Foundation for Project Management (MSPM) – Project Management Innovation Award for his contribution to a philosophy of science with respect to complex project management, and the IPMA Research Achievement Award 2016 for the outstanding contribution to project related knowledge through research.

Prof Bredillet can be contacted at email: Christophe.Bredillet@uqtr.ca