An offshore development center in India I've been working closely with for four years is wanting to place developers with NA clients. The client would manage the developer directly or could contract a PM if needed. The developer will reside in the ODC under HR supervision. And, the client would have a U.S. counterpart (partner) to board and service the client. I am considering being that partner or introducing a partner to the ODC client. I have a pretty good idea of the pros/cons, but would love feedback from the community. One other component, the ODC can make arrangements for the Indian developer to reside at the clients location for up to six months under a work visa.
Based on my experience, the biggest challenge is getting the right talent that can pull off a quality work, I have done this by sending out small tasks to different developers and evaluate their works after. (But I guess this isn't your issue since you have 4 yours experience of working together). The next challenge I faced was time difference. Both parties need to be flexible enough with their schedule meaning working in the evening to get things resolved right away. Exchanging email with hours/one-day-delay to reply kills the momentum and motivations.
Let me know if you would love to get more information about my experience with outsourcing.
The biggest challenge, in my experience, will simply be to break through the pre-conceived notions of domestic clients, and give them some confidence that your service can actually do the job.
Americans in particular have a hard time going offshore because there are so many disaster stories and many clients have already been burned before. Unfortunately, the belief that offshore development 'doesn't work' is not completely unfounded - a high percentage of projects fail. Even domestic projects are plagued with schedule and budget issues, and going offshore just makes this harder. So, we have our work cut out for us when we are trying to convince clients to consider overseas developers. This is especially true in India, which nowadays has about the worst reputation in the offshoring world except perhaps China.
That said, there are tons of companies that are doing great and are able to attract overseas clients and grow quickly. To do this, you need to have a real differentiator, and a real way of breaking through the skepticism that you will face. It's absolutely not enough to say that you can provide a PM, that you are ISO certified, or any of those types of claims - all shops say that and it doesn't mean much (most PM's are terrible anyways).
Figure out what your company can offer that will give clients a real feeling of confidence. In most cases, this is not going to be a bunch of case studies or claims about vague processes - it will be in the area of communication skills and professionalism.
There is no single greater fear in the minds of potential offshore clients than the fear that the communications will be excruciating and will derail the project. In my company, we try to get clients right on the phone, to demonstrate that we can assign a fluent/native English speaking project manager who will be with the client from beginning to end. Then we try to make contact with one of our developer leads, so that they can see that there is a real human who communicates well and will collaborate with them on their project.
This works wonders. Imagine how it would feel to have someone speak to you in perfect English, then say "Don't worry, we'll assign a great project manager to handle your project once you get ready to start" - that leaves a lot to the imagination. Better to prove that you have those skills right out of the gate.
Generally, the teams that are most successful don't spend a lot of time pitching clients on their technical skills or their processes, or even their former clients. It's the teams that make immediate, intimate, productive, constructive contact with the clients and demonstrate great communication skills and organization - that is what gets clients attention.
In my business I usually place clients with offshore teams, but I also consult to offshore teams about how to get clients (or how to go agile). You would be amazed at the feedback I get from both vendors and clients. Clients say they are deluged with offshore teams constantly sending them the same, tired sales pitches. Vendors say they are trying to develop leads, but the prospects usually ignore them.
If you want to make sales, consider building confidence with potential clients by showing them the individual people that they will be working with, so that they can see (and hear) for themselves what it's like to collaborate with those people. Or, just find the one differentiator that you have that will build trust and confidence, and promote that instead of doing the 'same old pitch' that all the other teams do.
Also, be prepared to speak very frankly about the issues associated with india, and how you plan to overcome them. Be sure to have a strong answer about how you will deal with attrition and culture as they pertain to offshore development in India - every savvy client will want to hear this.
Good luck !!
I am an American and I own and directly manage an India-based development center since 2011. We have provided both on and offshore labor from India to American client companies, so have direct experience with what you are asking about.
This is a tricky arrangement, but one that can pay off in certain circumstances. With the current uncertainty around work visas, everything we knew before has to be reconsidered. That is the first challenge; understanding that new US government policies could negatively impact your business model. Aside from that, the obstacle is in finding the value and preserving that for your client to see. When all the costs settle, the outplacement model really only works well for the larger players who dominate this service sector. I'm not sure how many placements you have, but I think you'd need at least 25-50, growing at least 1-2 new placements per month, to see this as a profitable model. If you can't place this many, you may want to examine the costs and potential revenues again and stick with standard outsourcing. If your clients really want these services, you could also invest some of your funds into enhanced presence off-shoring techniques.
If you want to discuss this further, let's setup a 15 minute call to discuss.