Two words: expensive and grueling. But it’s absolutely necessary.
The engagement manager must visit the remote site at least once every six months. Lots of thing can change in that time and it may be very costly not to take a look for yourself on a regular basis. This is also good for team unity and morale which needs to be boosted regularly.
As of the time of this writing, a trip to Bangalore cost $1,700. Coach. Without delays, the trip takes 22 hours (which you won’t want to do in coach class a second time). For less time and money you could travel every other month to Mexico. Without the jetlag.
Once you commit to a 22-hour trip plus the additional adjustment time, you’ll want to stay for at least two weeks. Your trips to Mexico or other nearshore locations could be as short as one or two days, which is about what it would take to check status and do team building (particularly if you do it often enough).
The smart money says that you will also want to rotate offshore engineers through the US location in extended stays. This is a big morale booster and it will help each team think of the other as people, not “them.” The rotating engineers will take back with them a lot of the subtleties that can only be acquired and appreciated in person. The best video conference yet to arrive on the market will not eliminate the need for regular, face-to-face interaction.
With a nearshore team, the equivalent effect can be accomplished by shorter and more regular visits, scheduled around significant events (e.g., design reviews, start of alpha testing).