The Education Minister has been told that early, structured and regular engagement with stakeholders, including young people, is needed if a repeat of the exam chaos of last summer is to be avoided.
While showing an understanding of the difficult and challenging conditions faced, an independent report on the review of the alternative awarding of CCEA's 2020 GCSE, AS and A level examinations also found there were concerns over the lack of communication with parents and teachers, many of whom were left in the dark over how the grades would be awarded.
"Greater collaboration in the design phase may help build a coalition of support for the approach being adopted," the report, compiled by Delloite, said.
"It should be noted that the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People has indicated her willingness to act as a conduit to obtain young people's views on issues, similar to the role that the Welsh Commissioner has agreed to."
Last year's A Level results saw 38% of those taking the exams downgraded from predicted grades, and prompted a U-turn by the Department, which then reverted to teacher assessed grades. It said the CCEA relied too heavily on the technical process of awarding grades and its own system of modelling, which resulted in a lack of clarity for pupils.
The report acknowledged a lot of good work was done in a short space of time, and that what has resulted was a 'least worst option' given the time frame available for making arrangements.
Minister Peter Weir said the aim this year is to improve on the technical side of the grading awards.
"It was important for me to commission a completely independent evaluation of awarding," he said.
"The report recognises the extremely challenging circumstances which required the cancellation of examinations and the development of alternative awarding arrangements by CCEA.
"However, there are a number of areas where the report identifies important considerations which will be reflected in the development of alternative awarding arrangements for 2021. "
The Minister said new arrangements for the awarding of grades will be published in the next two weeks.